Jennifer Shu, M.D., FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics
Because of the pandemic, a lot of parents postponed pediatrician visits for their children. Now is the perfect time to catch up.
If you postponed doctor visits during the pandemic, now is a good time to catch up with your pediatrician. Children and teens need regular checkups to make sure their development is on track, to talk about nutrition and behavior, and to get the vaccines they need.
It’s safe and necessary; plus, your pediatrician wants to see your child. Pediatricians have seen a huge drop in patient visits because of the pandemic. Lots of children are missing vaccinations, physical exams, and screenings. Now that influenza and COVID-19 are circulating, it’s important that you stay connected with your pediatrician.
Pediatricians are taking extra steps to protect against COVID-19. If you have any concerns, you can call your pediatrician. They can tell you about safety precautions in place at the office.
If your child hasn’t been vaccinated for influenza yet, it’s not too late. Your child should get a flu vaccine as soon as possible. Getting an influenza vaccine can both prevent flu and lessen the risk of severe symptoms if they do get sick. It’s as important as wearing a face covering, washing hands, and staying 6 feet apart.
Besides the influenza vaccine, your child also needs their recommended childhood immunizations. We wouldn’t want an outbreak of another potentially deadly, yet entirely preventable disease, such as measles.
Other reasons to schedule a visit with your pediatrician include newborn visits after a having a baby; adolescent health concerns, such as menstrual care and depression screening; routine lead, anemia, and cholesterol screening; hearing and vision screenings; monitoring growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs; preparticipation physical examinations before returning to sports or other activities; assessing developmental milestones; and, treating infections or injuries.
Keeping your child safe
To make visits safe, some offices have separated “sick” and “well” areas of their clinic or are having newborns come in before 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 this 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.
If your child is sick or injured, or struggling emotionally, pick up the phone and call your pediatrician. We are working hard to make sure we can care for your child, while keeping everyone safe.