Female doctor wearing a mask listens to the heartbeat of a young girl

Don’t Skip Your Child’s Doctor Visits This Year

If you are considering skipping your child’s wellness visits to the doctor due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to think twice.

Some routine checkup appointments may have been postponed earlier this year due to stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. Yet right now, it’s more important than ever to keep children and teens protected against infectious diseases as restrictions loosen, day cares re-open and students prepare to return to in-person classes at school or on a college campus this fall.

Remember: the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 isn’t the only disease children and teens could encounter.

Routine vaccinations for the flu, measles, mumps, rubella, rotavirus, polio and the pneumococcal bacteria that can cause serious infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis, are all highly important. Vaccinations protect children and teens from these damaging illnesses and overall, keep the population healthy – which is especially critical when health care resources are stretched thin during the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues, health officials are anticipating the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections to coincide with the beginning of flu season in the fall. Being prepared for flu season by getting the flu shot as early as possible will help keep everyone healthier and ease the future burden on doctors and hospitals. Check to see if your child is up to date with the flu shot – and ask your doctor or pharmacist when this season’s vaccine will become available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all people 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. July or August is too early for the flu vaccine, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu later in the season. September and October are ideal times to get vaccinated, however as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue even in January or later if you haven’t already gotten the flu shot.

Additionally, seeing the doctor is important to track your child’s growth and development. For example, doctors’ offices typically have strict schedule of visits for children under two years of age to ensure they are on track with their height and weight, strengthening their motor control and are learning social behaviors.

For children and teens, regular visits to the doctor also can help address any early warning signs of chronic conditions or difficulties with their vision or hearing.

If you’re concerned about your personal safety when visiting the doctor’s office, call ahead and ask them about their waiting room policies, their cleaning protocols or face covering requirements. Some doctor offices have eliminated their waiting rooms and have patients wait in their vehicles, for example. Also, check with your doctor to see if your child needs a routine vaccination at their appointment – and if not, ask to see if the in-person visit could be turned into a telehealth virtual visit.

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Photo credit: Portra

 

 

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