This COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious changes in our lives. First, trying to figure out how to work from home while you home-school your children. Next, where to get toilet paper and how to make a face mask. Stay-at-home orders discourage even the bravest soul from leaving the house for anything except exercise or necessities. Unfortunately, many are forgoing their child’s well exam, leaving those children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Parents are understandably frightened. Everyone wants to protect their families. Even with states opening and easing restrictions, many are afraid to go to the pediatric office for their child’s well exam. Be assured that pediatric offices are taking every measure to keep children safe. Many have separate office hours and separate areas for well visits. Some allow you to skip the waiting room and check in virtually, waiting in the car until your room is ready. Masks are a requirement for all, except those under 2 years of age. Rooms and equipment are disinfected between patients. Telehealth (online) visits are an option for certain situations.
Why is it dangerous to wait? When children miss those all-important vaccines, it leaves them vulnerable to disease. In this day and time when we are most concerned about disease prevention, missing vaccines increases your child’s risk of having a vaccine-preventable disease. Healthcare providers are concerned that we may see a surge of vaccine-preventable diseases recur due to this climate.
With the extensive testing and years of evidence, today’s vaccine schedule is safer than ever. My mother had to endure measles as a child, but my children did not, thanks to the MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine). My mom feared sending her children to school in the 1950s during the polio epidemic, as children were dying and being crippled by polio, but my children are protected from polio thanks to the IPV (polio vaccine).
Pertussis (whooping cough), known as the 100-day cough, is particularly cruel and potentially deadly to infants. Thankfully, the Dtap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine protects children and infants. Vaccines really are the miracle of the modern age. Unfortunately, we will be dealing with COVID-19 until we get a reliable vaccine, which will take some time. Until then, let’s not lose the ground we have gained over other horrible, life-threatening diseases.
Thankfully the COVID-19 virus (SARS CoV-2) does not seem to affect children to the same severity or extensity that it affects adults. You will find that your pediatric office is a clean and secure place to protect your children from disease. It is safe to get your child’s well check and vaccines. Protect your child from vaccine-preventable diseases by making your child’s well appointment today. Do not delay!
Dr. Melanie J. Wilhelm is a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Norfolk and an asst. professor at ODU. Her book, Raising Today’s Baby: 2nd Edition, is available on Amazon. For more info., visit RaisingTodaysChild.com, www.facebook.com/RaisingTodaysChild and www.twitter.com/Rzn2dayschild/