Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Parents are juggling a lot of responsibilities right now but making sure your children are up to date on their shots is one of the best things you can do to protect them against preventable childhood diseases.
If you have put off doctor visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, now is a good time to visit your pediatrician and get caught up.
Keeping on track with vaccinations
Pediatricians have seen a huge drop in patient visits because of the pandemic. This means that many children are missing vaccinations, physical exams, screenings, and other important care. Now that influenza and COVID-19 viruses are circulating, it is very important that you stay connected to your pediatrician. Following the recommended check-up schedule is necessary for your child’s best protection.
Staying up to date with immunizations is as important as wearing a cloth face covering, washing hands, and staying six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The last thing that is needed now is an outbreak of another potentially deadly, yet entirely preventable, disease such as measles. But if your child has missed a vaccination, you don’t need to start over. Just call your pediatrician and get back on track.
Safer visits to the pediatrician
Sometimes it’s hard to tell how sick your child is. Influenza and COVID-19 are contagious and spreading this season. Both viruses have similar symptoms, too. If you have questions about your child’s symptoms, just call.
To make visits safe, some offices have separated “sick” and “well” areas of their clinic or are having check-up patients come in earlier in the day than other patients. Phone ahead so your pediatrician can advise you on the best way to come in. For other kinds of appointments, pediatricians may offer video visits. Call your pediatrician’s office to find out if telemedicine is available and appropriate for the needs of your child or teen.
If you feel you need to call 911, trust your instincts and call. Otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to check in with your pediatrician first. Sometimes they can help over the phone or will help coordinate other kinds of care for your child without a trip to the hospital.
Most of all, do not avoid seeing your pediatrician or going to the clinic or hospital if your child needs necessary medical care.