Why you should keep your child’s well visit
Studies are showing that more and more parents are not taking their children for well visits and immunizations because they’re fearful about exposure to COVID-19. Pediatrician Kerry Sease, MD, explained why it’s important to go.
“Immunization of children, especially in the first year of life, is our top priority,” she said. Our country has seen a resurgence of vaccine-preventable illnesses and we don’t want to see that rise during this pandemic.”
Dr. Sease said a delay in getting these vaccines could affect herd immunity. “There are people who can’t get vaccines because they’re medically unable – whether it’s disease specific or because of the medications they’re taking. We need to do our part as a community to protect them as well.”
She said well visits are also important for these reasons:
- Monitoring development. “Their brains are rapidly developing during that time. It’s important to monitor motor and language development and answer parents’ questions as well. For our older children, we are also evaluating for signs of anxiety and depression. The social isolation they’re feeling can increase that.”
- Monitoring education. “How are kids doing in school, are they maintaining friendships, is there an issue with a potential learning disorder – those are all covered in a well exam.”
- Routine maintenance. “If a child has a condition like ADHD or asthma, we can provide regular follow-up to help children maintain their health.”
Dr. Sease said there are 11 well child visits that are recommended in the first 30 months of a child’s life.
What immunizations should children receive?
“In the newborn nursery, they get the hepatitis B vaccine and continue that series during their 2-, 4- and 6-month well child checks. That is when children get their primary series of immunizations and then they get their boosters at around 12 to 18 months,” Dr. Sease said.
These vaccines protect children against these illnesses:
- Whooping cough
At a year they’re vaccinated against:
- Hepatitis A
- Boosters for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough
Dr. Sease said children get two vaccinations against chickenpox before they start school. “Chickenpox is not always benign,” she said. “It can have a lot of complications, even death. Measles is another one where we’re seeing a comeback. It can be much more than just a rash – it can be a deadly illness. We’ve changed the landscape of infectious disease with these vaccines.”
Is this the right time to take children to the doctor for their well visits?
Dr. Sease said pediatricians are separating well visits from sick visits, whether by location or time of day. Other safety measures include:
- You can stay in your car until it’s time for your child to be seen and be taken to the exam room.
- Providers and staff are wearing masks.
- Some pediatricians are seeing patients in their cars.
- Some pediatricians will do a virtual visit and you just come in to get the immunization.
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