Over the last year, parents have been doing their part to stay indoors and social distance to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But staying home has led to many children missing their annual check-ups and recommended vaccinations.
An expert with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) says maintaining these visits is the best way to protect your child from serious diseases.
“There is great hesitancy to get into the office for routine visits and vaccinations,” said Sandra McKay, associate professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “No one wants to come in for their scheduled appointments and instead they will come in for health concerns like a rash or illness and at that time they try to make up for their missed appointments and ask to get their child vaccinated from a few months prior.”
McKay, a pediatrician with UT Physicians, says it is important to follow the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics on when to visit the doctor for a well-check and vaccination appointment.
“We have clear vaccine guidelines that we follow. If someone is behind, we catch them up any way we can, but we don’t want to wait too long,” she said.
A missed or delayed vaccine appointment can lead to less protection from deadly diseases such as measles, whooping cough, rotavirus, and others.
New CDC research shows infant vaccination rates have declined since the start of the pandemic.
“We are seeing in real time what life is like without a vaccine. We have lived and seen how the last year shaped up without a vaccine for COVID-19. The diseases we vaccinate children for are still very present in the world. With time, I think many have forgotten just how deadly these diseases can be. My concern is if we don’t maintain good vaccination rates we run the risk of these diseases we eradicated coming back while COVID-19 is still impacting our communities,” McKay said.
She reminds parents that clinics are continuing to take precautionary measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. When going in for an appointment parents and children must wear a mask if deemed age-appropriate, complete a COVID-19 screening, and get a temperature check.
Additionally, children and parents going in for a regular well-check will be separated from sick children and their parents.
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