When stay-at-home orders went into place during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may have altered your plans to stay on track with preventive doctor’s appointments. If you have kids, that may also mean missed routine vaccinations.
In May, the CDC released a report that found a large decline in pediatric visits and a drop in vaccinations. But it’s important to get back on schedule to help protect your child, and National Immunization Awareness Month (August) is a great time to start. Childhood vaccines help prevent serious illness, including, but not limited to:
- Mumps, measles and rubella (MMR)
These three viruses are highly contagious and may lead to serious, long-term health issues. The CDC recommends children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against all three viruses. The first dose is typically given between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years old.
This can be a deadly disease caused by a virus that infects a person’s brain and spinal cord causing paralysis. It’s recommended that children get four doses of the polio vaccine, starting at 2 months old, 4 months old, 6-18 months old and between 4 and 6 years old.
This disease is common among young kids and older adults. CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old.
This is a serious infection which affects the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The first dose is recommended for before your child enters high school and the second around the age of 18.
- Whooping cough
Also known as pertussis, whopping cough is a respiratory disease caused by bacteria. There are two types of vaccines to help protect against this disease – DTap is recommended for children younger than 7 years old and Tdap for older children and adults.
This contagious disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The CDC recommends two doses of the chickenpox vaccine – the first dose between 12 and 15 months old and the second between 4 and 6 years old.
- Hepatitis A and B
There are several hepatitis infection variations, which are all caused by different viruses that attack the liver, which may cause serious lifelong complications. The CDC recommends children get two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine — one dose between 12 and 23 months of age and the second at least 6 months after the first dose. The hepatitis B vaccine is given in a series of shots with the first dose given at birth and the rest completed by 6 months.
The flu is a respiratory virus with symptoms that may range from mild to severe. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the vaccine ever year.
Check the CDC’s immunization schedule for a full list of recommended vaccinations to help ensure your child is up to date.
If you’re feeling nervous about an in-person medical appointment, many clinics are taking extra steps to make sure that well-child visits can happen safely during COVID-19. Some extra precautions you may experience include:
- Your doctor’s office may be scheduling sick visits and routine visits during different times or days.
- You may be asked to remain outside until it’s time for your child’s appointment in order to help eliminate crowding in waiting rooms.
- You may use a pre-screening tool that can be completed on a smart phone ahead of time. Your temperature may be taken before entering a building as part of the pre-screening process.
- Some may offer sick visits and routine visits to be performed at different locations.
Before your child’s visit, call your doctor so you can know what to expect.
Remember, appointments with your pediatrician are essential to help maintain your child’s health, especially for those 2 years and younger to ensure they are protected from vaccine preventable diseases, plus the development of infants changes rapidly. Early identification of concerns helps connect your child with the resources needed. With extra precautions in place, it may help you feel safe while helping to protect your child.