The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made it difficult for many families to maintain routine health care visits for their children, and pediatricians have seen a notable drop in vaccination rates since the start of this pandemic. While it is important to safeguard your children against coronavirus, it is also necessary to protect them from other harmful illnesses.
Below, Dr. Nathaniel Beers, M.D., MPA, FAAP, president of HSC Health Care System and pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital, provides tips for parents looking to safely maintain health visits for their family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Make Vaccinations a Priority
Vaccines are scientifically proven to be among the safest and most effective ways of protecting babies and children from diseases such as measles, meningitis and whooping cough. Many of these illnesses are particularly life-threatening in children, so it is essential that parents make pediatric vaccinations a priority. Timely vaccination ensures your child is immune before any potential exposure to the disease, and will keep them protected when schools resume in-person.
Call Your Pediatrician About Appointments
Due to COVID-19, pediatricians all over the country have gotten creative about how they conduct visits in order to protect their patients, including holding drive-up appointments and seeing well and unwell children at different times/locations. Make sure to speak to your pediatrician about your child’s immunization record and what appointment options are available. Your pediatrician can help you determine which appointment types are available and work best for your child.
Take Proper Precautions Before and After Your Visit
Make sure to follow all hospital and clinic protocols, which are put in place to ensure patient and parent safety. Wash your hands before your appointment, directly after your appointment and when you arrive back home. Afterward, you and your child can also change clothes and shower as an added precaution.
In order to stay protected from the coronavirus, make sure you and your child wear well-fitting masks to the immunization appointment and keep them on unless directed otherwise by a physician or nurse.
Reach Out to Your Pediatrician with Any Concerns
In general, if you have any health-related concerns regarding your child at any time, reach out to your pediatrician. Doctors, nurses and medical staff are always here to help you during this pandemic and into the future.
Nathaniel Beers is a general and developmental-behavioral pediatrician and is a recognized expert in the area of children with complex needs.
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