Social distancing and isolation are prompting the rescheduling of all nonessential medical treatment, or converting visits to telehealth appointments. So do your child’s pediatrician visits count as essential? Or, should you reschedule those routine appointments? The answer is: it depends.
For most patients, it’s important to keep vaccine appointments, while rescheduling everything else. If your child has an appointment coming up, start by having a frank conversation with your provider about your family’s specific risk-benefit analysis, which might incorporate your baby’s age, whether vaccines are due at this visit, and whether there is any officially mandated flexibility with those vaccines in your country’s recommended schedule. If no vaccines are needed and your baby is gaining weight and generally doing well, you may be able to set up a virtual appointment or delay the visit.
Why It’s Important to Get Recommended Immunizations
As we navigate the new challenges of COVID-19, immunizations are still crucial to public and personal health. If you live in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currentlyrecommends you stay on schedulewith your child’s vaccinations. Vaccines protect your child from life-threatening diseases, like polio and tetanus. And they also keep others safe by eliminating the risk that these diseases spread in the community.
Of course, providers can also make some practical changes to help make sure children get crucial vaccines, while reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread. The AAP suggests pediatricians only conduct well visits for newborns, as well as infants and younger children who require immunizations, while rescheduling well visits for those in middle childhood and adolescence. That means fewer patients in the clinic. In addition, your practice may choose to limit immunizations to early morning and reserve the remainder of the day for sick visits. They may also dedicate specific rooms or practice sites for sick visits and well visits, respectively.
Some Well Visits Can Be Done Virtually
Non-vaccine appointments later in a child’s first year may be converted to virtual appointments, as they tend to revolve more around general development and milestones. Same goes for non-vaccine appointments for toddlers and older children.
If you have a newborn, your provider may want you to come in to track weight gain and to make sure your baby is eating and growing well. It’s also important to follow-up with any existing newborn concerns, such as jaundice.
Any time a newborn has a fever 100.3F or higher you want to notify your provider ASAP. If you have concerns about your baby meeting developmental milestones, it can’t hurt to have a quick telephone chat. You can also ask general questions about your baby’s health on your nurse line if your provider or insurance has that option. Please feel free to run anything by your Cleo Family Guide, as well. Though guides cannot answer medical questions, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
Questions to Ask Your Provider
As you navigate how to handle pediatric appointments, here are questions to ask:
- Is my baby due for any vaccinations right now? Which ones?
- When is the earliest or latest a baby can have this vaccine and still be on schedule?
- Do you offer virtual appointments?
- Do you have a nurse line for immediate questions?
- How is your practice reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure?
- Are there options for vaccine-only appointments with staggered patients?
Vaccine schedules by country:
Cleo aims to give the most accurate information about COVID-19, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since this story was published. For the latest information, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.