Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus, many children have missed their annual doctor’s appointment. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that from January to April 2020 fewer childhood vaccines have been given during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We realize there have been a lot of changes to the process of getting an appointment, some clinic location changes and multiple COVID-19 screenings. Earlier, the stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders definitely created a disruption within care systems all over the country. So now is the time, if you haven’t already, to call your child’s pediatrician and schedule an appointment. We all know that vaccines and sports physicals are needed to begin the new school-year.
Whatever action steps you have to take, it’s essential that you schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor. If your child hasn’t received their normally scheduled immunization shots, it can put them at risk of contracting serious illnesses or diseases.
It’s also important for your child to get their vaccines, so they don’t spread any illness to infants who haven’t been vaccinated yet – to others who have pre-existing, serious illnesses – or to anyone with a weakened immune system.
CDC issues reminder about the importance of vaccines
The CDC has been so concerned about the lower number of vaccines, they issued a guidance reminder to the public about the importance of getting children into the pediatrician for well-child checkups, which includes immunizations. This is important for all ages, but particularly for toddlers 24-months-old and younger when many of the protective vaccines are given.
Another contributing factor to the delay in shots for toddlers and school-aged kids in the first months of 2020 has been parents’ fears of going out in public and possibly exposing themselves and their child to COVID-19. Now several months into the pandemic we have better and consistent protocols in place to help protect families. It’s a difficult time. But the last thing we want is a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as the measles, the whooping cough or any others.
Vaccines play an important role in keeping your kids healthy
Vaccines are one of the safest ways to keep your kids healthy and protected from illness and disease. Thanks to the widespread use of vaccines around the world, many diseases that once injured or killed children are no longer common.
Millions of parents who follow the Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule help their children avoid getting illnesses like hepatitis B, the flu, meningococcal disease, human papillomavirus and others.
Many preteens and teens receive the HPV vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer. The timing of doses is very important, as with any vaccine, in maximizing its effectiveness. The World Health Organization and the CDC have their recommendations regarding the timing of this type of vaccine. The WHO suggests vaccinating nine to 13-year-old girls, whereas the CDC recommends best time for HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12, with the option to start at age nine.
Vaccinate your child on-time
Yes, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re urging you to make vaccinating your child a priority. We’re encouraging everyone to continue practicing social/physical distancing, wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer when at a clinic or doctor’s office. You may be asked to sit out in your car and wait until you’re called into the building by the nurse or other clinical staff. By sticking to the immunization schedule recommended by the CDC, you’re helping to ensure your child avoids diseases that could make them very sick.
Some of the illnesses prevented by vaccines:
(Pertussis) Whooping cough
If you have missed an appointment for your child’s vaccines, make sure to talk to your doctor about how you can get your child caught up on the needed immunizations. Timing is everything.
Remember to get your child’s sports physical
Annual medical check-ups and wellness visits are also essential for your child’s health because it allows your pediatrician to track your child’s physical and mental well-being.
Because we’ve been experiencing constant changes due to the effects of COVID-19, no one knows for sure exactly what class and sports schedules will look like for this 2020-2021 school-year. However, schools still require your child to be ready with a signed document by a doctor that they’re well enough to participate in sports or other types of school activities.
Appointments could get back-logged because so many parents put off getting vaccinations in the past several months. These physical exams are important to catch any problems as early as possible – whether it’s eye-sight, mental health or an unhealed injury. In many schools, each activity requires a form be filled out, signed and submitted before your child can participate.
A helpful tip for parents of athletes
Schedule a sports physical or pre-participation physical exam and ask for their shots to be part of that doctor’s visit. This approach could prevent the need for a second appointment, and the summer is getting shorter by the day. If you go in for vaccines and expect to get a sports physical while you’re in there, for many doctor’s offices – it doesn’t work that way. Call ahead and ask a lot of questions about the most efficient way you can get everything done in one appointment.Physical exams are important because:
- They're required by the state of Texas to participate in sports and other activities.
- They help determine if your child is ready for strenuous activity.
- They reduce your child’s risk of injury.
- They can help your pediatrician keep track of your child’s overall health.
Remember skipping medical exams can be detrimental to your child’s overall health. If you’re concerned about going to your pediatrician’s office during the pandemic, reach out to the doctor’s office and find out what precautions they have in place to protect your family. Whether it’s for time-sensitive immunizations, a physical or both, now is the time to make the appointment.
University Children’s Health offers comprehensive pediatric services, from primary care to specialized care for the most complex conditions. For more information call 210-358-5437.