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Pediatricians to Parents: Don’t Skip Your Child’s Medical Care During COVID-19

As families face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia pediatricians are offering parents guidance for keeping kids healthy during this extraordinary time.

“While we want families to shelter-in-place to keep COVID-19 transmission at a minimum, we don’t want to neglect important medical care for our children, including life-saving immunizations,” said Terri McFadden, MD, FAAP, president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The Georgia AAP, which represents more than 1,800 pediatricians across the state, offers the following advice for parents trying to decide whether to seek medical care for their child during this uncertain time.

Keep your newborn checkup appointments.

Newborns are especially vulnerable to infection, so it’s very important to keep babies away from anyone who might be sick, But there are also important reasons to take babies to their doctor in the first week after birth. Newborns are at risk for weight loss and jaundice, both of which can be serious. Newborns should have their weight measured and jaundice level checked three to five days after birth, and sometimes even more frequently.

Children should stay upto- date with their well visits and vaccines.

Well visits and immunizations are extremely important, especially for children under the age of two. A child’s growth should be tracked to ensure that any issues are caught early before they become a health or developmental problem. Between birth and two years of age, babies and young children also receive vaccines to protect them from 10 diseases. Older children should also keep their well visit appointments and keep current on any vaccines that are due. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause serious infections and may even lead to death. During the COVID19 pandemic, pediatricians strongly recommend that parents keep well visit appointments to ensure their child is immunized and protected against these illnesses. And it is not just the physical health of the child pediatricians are concerned about. They are there to help with your child’s emotional health too, as they go through this stressful time.

Pediatric offices are working to keep your child safe.

Pediatricians are taking extra steps in their offices to ensure the health and safety of young patients and their families. Practices are taking precautions, such as only scheduling well visits in the mornings and in-person sick visits in the afternoons, with the office being cleaned and disinfected during the lunch hour. Or by bringing patients directly from their cars into an exam room and skipping the waiting area; and completely separating office space between sick and well children. Exam rooms are disinfected after each use and staff use masks and gloves to contain germ transmission. Parents should call their pediatrician to find out what the practice is doing to keep children safe and healthy.

Pediatricians can provide care for your child via telehealth visits.

If your child is sick, don’t put off needed care. Parents should call their pediatrician to discuss their child’s symptoms and determine if they should be seen by the physician. Due to COVID, many practices across Georgia have either started or greatly expanded their telehealth capabilities. The pediatrician may recommend a telehealth visit, instead of the child coming to the office, allowing the child to be “seen” by the practice without leaving home. Doctors are seeing sick patients virtually through Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom and other modalities. Minimizing the number of children coming into an office makes it safer for patients who need to be seen in-person.

Children’s emotional health is important too, especially during these stressful times.

Just as COVID-19 has been stressful for adults, so it is for children and teens. In some cases, more so. Your pediatrician is there for you and your children when problems or concerns arise due to stress or anxiety, school performance, or other behavioral concerns. These kinds of concerns can also be addressed by your pediatrician using telehealth as described above, if that is the preference.

 

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