The importance of well-child visits during COVID-19

Marissa Michel PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

You’ve educated yourself about coronavirus, you’re limiting your social interactions with others, ordering groceries online, wearing a mask during necessary outings — you’ve been doing all the things as recommended by medical professionals to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Now the question is: Do you take your healthy children to the doctor for their recommended visit? Or is this something that should be delayed during a pandemic?

As a pediatrician, I encourage families to schedule overdue and upcoming visits right away. Well-child visits are very important for all kids, especially those 2 years and younger.

During the first two years of life, we give children much needed vaccines that help prevent diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, polio, hepatitis, whooping cough, meningitis and pneumonia, among others.

If too many children miss well-child visits this could lead to lower immunizations rates and we could see an increase in preventable diseases when kids return to day care and school.

Along with vaccines, well-visits are a time when we screen for anemia, lead poisoning and check for important growth and developmental milestones. In the adolescent population, doctors screen for things like anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use.

We give recommendations for participation in athletics. We discuss healthy eating, encourage daily activity, chat about safety. We perform a full physical exam to ensure your child is healthy and — if we find something wrong — we can act on it early. Additionally, this visit is a chance for you and your child to have any questions answered about COVID-19 that you might have thought about since all our lives changed in March.

But is it safe?

Primary care practices everywhere have made changes in their processes and spaces to make sure it is safe for families to visit for appointments. For example, at our clinic, when calling to make an appointment, if children have any COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, chest pressure, shortness of breath, body aches, diarrhea, rash) you will be directed to the Respiratory Clinic or your child might be scheduled for a telehealth visit when appropriate.

The goal is to separate healthy and sick patients to reduce the risk of exposure. Your child’s well-visit will be rescheduled if you or your child have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Upon arrival, there is an extensive screening process to ensure the safety of our families as well as the staff. Social distancing is practiced in the waiting room and we have worked to shorten the amount of time families have to wait before being seen. All patients older than 2 will be required to wear a mask while you are at your visit.

As businesses open and our lives slowly return to normal, it’s critical that you get your child back on track with routine medical care. This will help to ensure that they’re healthy when school starts and have the immunizations needed to fight off preventable disease.