My child needs a vaccination. Can I take her to the clinic during COVID-19?
As we all do our best to keep our children safe from COVID-19, many parents are canceling routine visits with their pediatrician or family doctor. That means kids are missing vaccines that can keep them safe from other serious illnesses.
It may feel nerve-wracking to visit the doctor’s office right now. But the American Academy of Pediatrics is strongly encouraging parents to continue bringing their children in for routine care.
Why are vaccines so important?
Joe Oleniacz, a pediatrician and associate medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, said it’s important for kids to stay on schedule with their shots.
“We know this is a scary time for parents. Our concern is that delaying vaccines puts kids at risk for things like measles and whooping cough, which can be serious,” he said. “We want to prevent another outbreak from occurring.”
According to the CDC, vaccinations have prevented over 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children in the last 20 years. Regular appointments with a primary care doctor are especially important for kids two and under.
What about other health concerns?
If your child has symptoms of an illness, don’t ignore them. Oleniacz recommends speaking with your pediatrician or family doctor about your concerns over the phone. Your child’s doctor can provide guidance on how to proceed.
Some concerns can be handled in a virtual visit—either over the phone or on video chat. Because of COVID-19, many clinics are expanding telehealth options. Blue Cross NC has also expanded telehealth coverage in response to the pandemic. Ask your provider’s office about these options and whether a virtual visit is right for your child’s situation.
Staying safe during in-person visits
If you do have to go to the clinic, try not to worry. Pediatricians are aware of parents’ concerns and are taking precautions to keep you and your children safe.
For example, many clinics are staggering appointments so you can maintain distance from other patients. Other clinics are creating “virtual waiting rooms” by asking patients to stay in their cars until their appointment time, or creating specific times for wellness visits.
If you have safety concerns, call the doctor’s office ahead of time. Clinic staff can walk you through the measures they are taking to keep you safe.