Your family has been doing their part and staying home as much as possible to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19. But messages can get confusing about whether you should take your child to their doctor for a pediatric well visit or check-up. Even during a pandemic, it’s important for kids to have their growth, development, and well-being tracked.
What You Could Be Missing by Skipping Your Child’s Well Visit
Physical Exam: A regular physical exam can help your doctor pick up hard-to-detect issues like high blood pressure, heart murmur, lumps and bumps, ear and hearing issues, and even cavities.
Assessment of Growth: During a check-up, your healthcare provider will track height, weight, and BMI. These measurements can tell them if your child has any medical issues that impact growth.
Assessment of Development: A development exam looks at parts of your child’s functioning, including things like reasoning and understanding, communication, behavior, and social skills. By doing this, doctors can identify developmental delays and learning disabilities early and get kids the help they need.
Immunizations: At a well-visit, your child’s provider will assess vaccination status and can recommend vaccines when appropriate.
You can keep up with your kids’ vaccine schedule, too! Use this easy-to-read and use guide provided by CDC.
Age Appropriate Screenings: At certain ages, your doctor will check your child for issues as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They’ll test for things like lead poisoning, anemia, depression, vision/hearing issues, cholesterol, and autism.
Adolescent Issues: Teens begin to have adult-type health issues that they often do not discuss with their parents; regular visits give doctors a chance to address these topics confidentially.
Guidance and Advice: Your doctor can help teach your family about evidence-based advice. This includes information that can impact your child’s health such as safe sleep environments for infants, how to protect with tools like car seats and bike helmets, and the importance of reading to children. Your healthcare provider can also help your family with questions about how to feed your children, sleep issues, problems going to the bathroom, as well as behavior and mental health concerns.
Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations
In recent years, there have been several outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough in the US. Also, the flu virus comes around every year. These diseases are very contagious and can be serious. As schools and daycares reopen, protecting children against these and other diseases makes these vaccinations especially important.
Your Doctor Is Being COVID-19 Safe
Try not to worry! Your child’s healthcare provider is equipped to make sure that you’re safe during a visit. Give them a call or send a message to check how they do regular checkups. Some do virtual visits through telehealth or phone calls. Others offer in-person visits during special times when only healthy children are present.
If you take your child in for a visit, your doctor’s office has adopted a wide variety of strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including:
- Social distancing (waiting in your car until you enter the exam room or limits on waiting room numbers)
- Mask wearing by all people in the facilities (staff and patients who are able)
- Screening of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and in some instances for infection
- Extra cleaning and disinfecting between visits and in the evenings
- Many healthcare staff have received the COVID-19 vaccination
What to Do if Your Child is Sick
Kids will still get upset tummies, ear infections, colds, rashes, and other health problems. Your doctor is there to help make them feel better. Contact your provider’s office to ask what to do; they’ll let you know if you need an in-person visit or if you can do it virtually via telehealth. They’ll also help you decide what to do if your child needs immediate care and they’re not available. Remember if it is an emergency, call 911.
Parents Have the Power to Keep Kids Healthy
These are challenging times and making it through a multi-year pandemic is tough on your family. But you have the power to help keep your child healthy. Make sure they see their doctor for well-child visits, vaccines, and sick visits. It’s one of the best things you can do to protect your child and community.