Are you worried about bringing your child in for their annual check-up? You’re not alone. Locally and nationally, parents are delaying their children’s checkups and vaccinations due to fear of COVID-19 exposure.
While being worried is understandable, it’s important to understand that postponing your child’s visit can do more harm than good. Your doctor’s office is safe, and experts encourage families not to postpone wellness visits.
Missing important vaccinations puts children at risk of diseases such measles, whooping cough, and other life threatening illnesses.
“Since March, we are seeing the rate of children under-immunized infants double from 25% to 50%. This means that in our community, 50% of babies under 18 months-old have not completed their immunization series,” says Dr. Chrystal Wittcopp Medical Director of Pediatrics at High Street Health Center. Statewide, the Massachusetts Department of Health has reported a 68% decrease in pediatric vaccinations.
Our pediatricians want you to know we are here and it is safe to come in. “Although COVID-19 is a very serious illness and can affect children, the illnesses to protect against with vaccinations are more common and more harmful as far as we can tell for young children. It is critical to still protect them against those diseases in this COVID era,” says Dr. Wittcopp.
During the early months of a baby’s life, they receive key infant immunizations to protect them from common childhood diseases such as whooping cough, common blood infections, and pneumonia. Babies are very susceptible to whooping cough – a disease that can be fatal for babies. This can be prevented with vaccination.
At age one, a baby receives their first measles vaccine. “We know that there have been measles outbreaks across the United States and Massachusetts in the last several years. It is still in our community and it is important to protect them,” says Dr. Wittcopp.
As the child grows to ages four and five, the immunizations begin to wear off. It is important for the child to have a booster dose to continue protection against those diseases, especially as they increase exposure at school.
In the adolescent and teen years there are two more critical vaccinations; one is against whooping cough. This second dose is a protective measure for babies. At this age, children also receive the meningitis vaccine.
NEW SAFETY MEASURES
While it is understandable for patients and families to be worried about possible COVID-19 exposure, we are doing everything we can to ensure a safe visit.
At our primary care practices, new safety and infection control procedures are in place to keep you and your child safe:
All patients, family members and visitors will be asked questions about health symptoms before entering the waiting area.
- You will be given hand sanitizer and a fresh surgical mask.
- We also screen and check our office staff daily.
- Only 1 adult may accompany a pediatric patient to a visit to limit risk.
- Appointments are spread out to minimize the number of people in our waiting areas, and patients are almost immediately brought back to exam rooms.
- Potentially sick children are separated from those that are healthy.
- We clean patient rooms thoroughly after each visit. We clean the rest of the facility throughout the day.
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU
Our pediatricians want you to know our offices are safe. “We are here. We are seeing patients in person and via telehealth. If you have questions or concerns, call us and we will find the best way to get your child the most appropriate care,” says Dr. Wittcopp.
If you still have concerns about coming in, there will be an immunization-only location coming this June.
For more information call, 413-794-2511.