Should I Take My Child to the Pediatrician During the Pandemic?

April 9, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Kevin A Slavin, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

In the new reality of dealing with COVID-19, parents may be concerned about keeping standing well-visits for their kids. But, it’s important to remember that wellness visits and immunizations are vital to a child’s health.

Pediatric practices across the country are implementing new procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are doing everything they can to keep you safe.

Like a child’s first steps or first lost tooth, well-visits and immunizations are critical childhood milestones. Often, the recommended well-visits schedule (1-month, 2-month, 4-month, and so on) is designed to:

  • allow for ongoing assessments of infants and toddlers during critical developmental stages,
  • ensure appropriate growth and nutrition, and
  • optimize vaccinations before your child comes into contact with a potentially life-threatening infection.

Should You Keep Your Scheduled Appointments?

In short, yes. Missing your scheduled well visits may limit a doctor’s ability to catch developmental, social, and emotional conditions early on when there’s still an opportunity for early intervention. Additionally, you may hinder the important process of protecting your child from serious illness through vaccination.

“Despite the current concerns of COVID-19, it is vital for our youngest patients to continue to go to their scheduled well-visits,” says Kevin A. Slavin, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health. “COVID-19 is not the only infection risk for children, in fact, infections like whooping cough or the measles are potentially even more life threatening for children.”

Legal Requirements

In addition to medical recommendations to continue your wellness visits, each U.S. state has specific immunization requirements children must meet to participate in public education. Many vaccines need to be spaced at certain intervals and missing an appointment may put your child behind the schedule you need for future enrollment.

New Jersey organizes immunization requirements based on age, and the number of doses needed for likely immunity. With certain date or doctor’s note requirements, be sure to carefully review specifications for each prescribed immunization, and connect with your local health department for additional information.

Before You Schedule Your Visit

As COVID-19 continues to spread, it’s important to take every precaution to protect you and your family. Before making your appointment, contact your pediatric practice to see if there are any new precautions implemented or telehealth options available, including:

  • A telemedicine visit with your pediatrician for an initial assessment or wellness visit.
  • For in-person well visits or immunizations, ask if you can wait in the car until a room is ready, or if there are any special processes in place to separate well visits from sick visits.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.