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Immunizations, well child visits, and medical care still important during COVID-19

If you only read one line from this article, make it this one: it is of the utmost importance to keep up with your child’s well visits and immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on May 8 indicating a decrease in childhood immunizations following the national emergency declaration. Similar data reported by the state Department of Health showed a decrease as well.

For any parent, their child’s health and well-being is a priority under normal circumstances. As we adopt to the pandemic by being careful about exposure, we have noted parents’ nervousness in taking their children to their doctor’s office even for routine medical visits and immunizations. The CDC report acknowledges these concerns are likely the reason for the decline.

Understandably parents want to keep their children safe from COVID-19, but avoiding doctor visits and skipping immunizations puts them at risk to other preventable diseases and potential of outbreaks as we head into fall. Wellness visits are also important to detect and discover any medical and developmental conditions these children may have as well as addressing parents’ concerns.

Parents should know that pediatricians in Chautauqua County are adapting their office schedules and policies to safely keep up with routine physicals and vaccinations when seeing these children in their offices. This includes completing necessary screening questions prior to, and precautions during the visit.

Practices are prioritizing kids ages two and under as these children finish their primary series of vaccines. We are utilizing telemedicine to see most children and adolescents with any acute illness or other conditions. If in a rare case there needs to be more hands-on evaluation, patients can be referred to an emergency room or urgent care. When referrals are needed, these could be achieved over this spring and summer rather than postponing until later in the year.

If parents are concerned about visiting their child’s pediatrician, they should contact the office by phone where a conversation with staff can help put minds at ease. If there are specific requirements that must be met during a well visit, such as decreased person to person contact for the immunocompromised, doctors can certainly discuss a plan to ensure your child’s safety while in the office.

Generally parents in Chautauqua County do a good job of keeping children up to date in wellness and immunizations when working along with their child’s doctor, but we have seen a recent decline and feel it is important to remind parents and the families we serve to stay disciplined in keeping up with their children’s routine health needs.

Your children’s health is our priority, too. This means not only protecting them from COVID-19 but also ensuring their overall health and well-being.

As of yet, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, and we see the damage it has done to our society. The CDC writes, “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the importance of vaccination.”

The Chautauqua Health Network Medical Leadership Working Group includes Wolf-Dieter Krahn M.D.; Robert Berke M.D.; G. Jay Bishop M.D., FACP, FSVM; Patrick Collins M.D.; Lynn M. Dunham M.D., FAAP; William A. Geary M.D., Ph.D.; Tariq Khan, M.D., FAAP; Elizabeth (Betsy) Kidder M.D., Ph.D, MPH; John LaMancuso M.D., FACP; Tat-Sum Lee M.D., FACP, FACEP; Lillian Vitanza Ney M.D., FACP, FACC; James M. Sherry M.D., Ph.D.; James E. Wild M.D., FAAFP.

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