Q: My child’s annual checkup was canceled during lockdown and I’ve been hesitant to reschedule it. Is it safe to go back to the pediatrician?
Many people postponed doctor appointments due to COVID-19, and that includes pediatric appointments. If your child’s well-keiki visit was canceled during lockdown, or if you’ve been avoiding taking your child for a checkup because you were worried about coronavirus risk, it’s now time to reschedule.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has strongly supported the continued provision of health care for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Young children may have missed their scheduled in person well child check during the pandemic, but it is important that they get back on track with their health care needs.
The CDC has warned of a drop in childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, due to pediatric appointments being canceled. Concern exists that delays in vaccinations may result in secondary outbreaks with vaccine-preventable illnesses, like measles and pertussis.
In addition to recommended immunizations, don't forget about other reasons why your child should visit the pediatrician's office such as newborn well checks after having a baby, adolescent health concerns such as menstrual care and depression management, sports physical before returning to sports (athletes who have had COVID-19 need clearance by a Pediatrician before returning to sports), hearing and vision screening, early diagnosis of developmental delays, infections and treatment of injuries. Keeping your child visits current decreases the chance for later admissions to the hospital.
Outpatient newborn care should not be compromised due to COVID-19, and newborn visits should optimally take place in person. If the mother is positive for SARS-CoV-2, and the infant is negative, a non-symptomatic alternate caregiver (if available) should accompany the infant to their visit.
Doctors’ offices and medical facilities should all have protocols in place to protect you and your child, just as CHAMPS Pediatrics in Kihei has in place. At CHAMPS Pediatrics, an online check-in protocol is in place, all staff wear masks and screened before work, and patients and visitors are screened for temperature and symptoms as well. And of course, there are many things you can do to keep yourself protected - wear your mask and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the office, while you are there (after touching shared surfaces and objects like pens), and after your appointment.
It’s understandable that parents are concerned about COVID-19 and want to avoid any potential exposure but remember that there are also health risks to skipping regular vaccines and doctor appointments, especially for kids. Most children will also need to be current on vaccines to return to school in the fall, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead, schedule a COVID-19 vaccine for your children that qualify, and get caught up on well-visits and vaccinations now.
For more information on CHAMPS Pediatrics, please visit www.champspediatrics.com.
CHAMPS Pediatrics LLC
1300 N. Holopono St. Suite 115
Kihei, HI 96753