Many parents are skipping or postponing their children’s well-child visits during the COVID-19 outbreak. And that has our pediatricians worried. In Maine, we’re thankful children have been largely unaffected by the virus. But other diseases are still a threat and disrupting a youngster’s immunization schedule can have other major consequences.
“Protecting our youngest patients is critical to prevent an outbreak of measles or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which is completely preventable by sticking to long-standing vaccination protocol,” says Martin’s Point Health Care pediatrician Alyssa Goodwin, M.D.
There’s another complication. When a child falls behind on his or her immunization schedule, catching up is challenging, because pediatricians need to follow established rules for timing and spacing vaccine apart from each other.
Visits are a priority for newborns through age 2
For these reasons, we are making our youngest patients – newborns through 24 months – the top priority for wellness visits and vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control, the Maine Centers for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all support this plan, and we strongly advise parents and caregivers to follow these guidelines:
- For ages newborn through 24 months: Stick to the schedule your pediatrician recommends for wellness visits and immunization appointments.
- For ages 2 and up: If you have a summer appointment, expect a call from our office with a recommendation on how to proceed. When vaccinations aren’t on your child’s schedule, we might consider switching to a telehealth format or postponing. We are committed to making sure children get booster vaccines on schedule and before school resumes, so look for news on catchup vaccination clinics soon.
Safety first, at every well-check
We understand many parents are concerned about bringing babies and kids to health care centers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please know we are taking every possible step to minimize risk and person-to-person contact, including:
- Establishing separate health care locations for sick and well patients
- Using virtual check-ins and waiting rooms
- Checking the temperature of each staff member and patient before entry
- Equipping care teams with gloves and masks, and providing more personal protective equipment as needed
“We’re 100% committed to protecting and preserving the physical, social and emotional health of our young patients,” adds Goodwin. The way we practice might look and feel different in the coming weeks and months, but we are here for you – and urge you to keep your children’s wellness care on track.