Children and adolescents need well-child visits and immunizations, even during the COVID-19 pandemic

Now more than ever, children and adolescents need to continue receiving routine well-child visits and regularly scheduled immunizations. From the earliest onset of the COVID19 pandemic, there has been a significant decrease in the number of preventive health visits to clinical practices. Unfortunately, this new reality has led to many patients missing important immunizations and delaying critical developmental screenings that are recommended for the well-being of every member of our pediatric population.

Parents and caregivers, please be aware that pediatric offices have remained open and that these essential, life-sustaining medical facilities continue to provide well-child visits and immunizations even during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) actively advocates for the continuation of preventive health services as part of the pediatric medical home and, with the entire pediatric community, strongly communicates the urgency for children to receive timely immunizations to prevent secondary outbreaks of preventable illnesses, such as measles, whooping cough, and polio.

As part of their comprehensive well-child and adolescent visits, pediatricians will perform developmental screenings, implement behavioral health assessments, and provide anticipatory guidance, all while answering the numerous questions parents and caregivers often have regarding the growth and development of their children. It is crucial to the overall health of our children that these assessments and screenings continue, especially given the many challenges and changes they are experiencing during this pandemic.  Pediatricians also use these visits to monitor for chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and allergies, and will often refill medications as required. Eliminating or waiting too long to have these interactions with your child’s medical provider represents a potential risk to your child’s health.

The AAP also recommends for adolescents, as with young children, to engage in routine well-child visits annually with their primary care physician.  It is essential to remember that during their teenage years, your child is growing into adulthood, experiencing significant developmental changes, both physiologically and emotionally.  It is imperative that your teen’s pediatrician remains involved, with consistent documented care, providing anticipatory guidance and the necessary screening tests.

If your child is overdue for a preventive health visit or scheduled immunization, please contact your medical provider today to schedule and coordinate this very important visit. And always remember, immunizing your children on time saves lives.

Johanna Vidal Phelan is a pediatrician.

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