We’re tackling a few urgent questions from parents in this time of coronavirus and COVID-19. Are you wondering if babies and children should continue to have vaccines on schedule? Thinking about how to manage regular medical appointments, and which situations require in-person visits to a pediatric practice? Read on.
Should parents take babies for initial vaccines right now? What about toddlers and older children who are due for vaccines?
The answer to this question is going to depend on many factors, including what your doctor’s office is offering. As with all health care decisions, it comes down to weighing risks and benefits.
In general, we think that getting those early immunizations in for babies and toddlers — especially babies 6 months and younger — has important benefits. It helps to protect them from infections such as pneumococcus and pertussis that can be deadly, at a time when their immune system is vulnerable. At the same time, they could be vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 should their trip to the doctor expose them to the virus.
For children older than 2 years, waiting is probably fine — in most cases. For some children with special health conditions, or those who are behind on immunizations, waiting may not be a good idea.
The best thing to do is call your doctor’s office. Find out what precautions they are taking to keep children safe, and discuss your particular situation, including not only your child’s health situation, but also the prevalence of the virus in your community and whether you have or might have been exposed. Together, you can make the best decision for your child.
When you need to bring your child to the doctor, even during a COVID-19 pandemic
As we all hear from all sides every day, the best thing we can do to keep ourselves and our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay home. But what if your child has a doctor’s appointment?
Certainly, anything that isn’t urgent should be postponed until a safer time. This would include checkups for healthy children over 2 (many practices are postponing checkups even for younger children if they are generally healthy, so check with your doctor’s office). It also includes follow-up appointments for anything that can wait, like a follow-up of ADHD in a child that is doing well socially and academically. Your doctor’s office can give you guidance about what can wait — and when to reschedule.
Many practices are offering phone or telemedicine visits, and it’s remarkable how many things can be addressed that way. I have been doing telemedicine visits, and have been struck by how much car