As some schools prepare to start in-person classes, doctors across the country are urging parents to take steps to help keep their children healthy.
That includes making sure kids are up to date on routine vaccinations, pediatricians warn.
“We don’t need a pandemic with COVID-19 and an outbreak of influenza or measles or another vaccine-preventable disease,” Dr. Robert Dudley, president of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told WVIT.
Across the country, pediatricians have seen a drop in patients seeking regular appointments and immunizations in the age of the coronavirus.
“Parental concerns about potentially exposing their children to COVID-19 during well child visits might contribute to the declines observed,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a May report. “To the extent that this is the case, reminding parents of the vital need to protect their children against serious vaccine-preventable diseases, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, is critical.”
Is it safe to visit?
Before heading to the pediatrician, the CDC encourages parents to check if the office has precautions to help protect patients against the coronavirus. Some healthcare providers have made patients wait for their appointments outside or are asking healthy and sick children to come to separate locations, officials say.
Dr. David Blake of Pediatric Associates of Spartanburg in South Carolina told WSPA his practices are taking measures to make conditions as safe as possible. That includes cleaning offices throughout the day and seeing healthy and sick patients at different times, he told the TV station.
While parents may feel wary about going to the doctor’s office, the outcomes from not going could be severe, KABC reported in July.
“Serious infections like the ones that can be prevented by diseases will increase the burden on the hospital system, which is already getting stretched to its limit,” Dr. Vikram Anand of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles told the TV station.
The steps come as school systems in several states have weighed whether students should return to school during the pandemic. When the coronavirus started its spread in the United States, districts across the country closed their campuses and moved classes online.
In its back-to-school guidance, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends schools keep up their vaccine requirements during the pandemic.
The CDC publishes a vaccine schedule and says getting shots on time can help children become immune to serious diseases before they are exposed to them. Even if kids fall behind on vaccinations, they should have the age-appropriate ones before the start of the school year, medical experts say.
“I think these past few months have been very disruptive to a childhood vaccine series, and so it’s very important to get caught up if you’ve had a delay in your kid’s vaccine series,” Dr. Cynthia Snider with Cone Health in North Carolina said in a WFMY interview.