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Many aspects of life have recently changed or been put on hold due to COVID-19. But should parents delay important vaccinations for their infants, children and teens?
“We know these are scary and uncertain times and many families aren’t sure whether they should bring their child to see their pediatrician for routine visits,” shared Tomitra Latimer, MD, Medical Director at Lurie Children’s Pediatrics at Deming. “It’s is important that infants and toddlers continue to receive their immunizations on time. Immunizations keep infants and children safe by protecting them from vaccine preventable diseases like measles and whopping cough (pertussis).”
Vaccines given to infants and young children protect against diseases. Pediatricians follow the recommended immunization schedule because it protects infants and children and boosts their immune system early in life before exposure to potentially life-threatening diseases like measles, bacterial meningitis and hepatitis B. Many vaccines are scheduled and require multiple doses several months apart.
“If a vaccine is delayed or missed, babies and toddlers are at increased risk from getting sick from a disease that is preventable with vaccine,” said Dr. Latimer.
Still there is fear and anxiety that you might be exposed to COVID-19 while visiting your primary care physician or pediatrician. Latimer shares that many medical practices are taking precautions to ensure the safety and health of their patients and staff. “Lurie Children’s Primary Care Clinics have adopted several precautions to keep patients, families and staff safe. We are postponing all non-urgent well child checkups and follow-up visits until a safer time,” said Dr. Latimer.
She continues, “We are screening families when scheduling for clinic visits with questions over the phone (any cough, fever or shortness of breath?) and then again upon arrival to the clinic. We have created a division in the waiting rooms between sick and well visits and staff are disinfecting the clinic multiple times a day. Lurie Children’s doctors, nurses and staff are wearing masks and now patients and families are asked to wear masks as well.”
Dr. Latimer stresses it’s especially important for children under the age of two to maintain their immunization schedule. For older children, it’s reasonable that a well-child visit could be rescheduled if vaccines will not be given. She urges families to reach out to their healthcare providers with questions or concerns.