Importance of child wellness visits and vaccinations
They are your world. Let's keep them healthy and well during these challenging times.
Understandably parents want to keep their children safe from COVID-19, but avoiding doctor visits and skipping immunizations puts them at risk to other preventable diseases and potential of outbreaks as we head into fall. Wellness visits are also important to detect and discover any medical and developmental conditions these children may have as well as addressing parents' concerns.
Child wellness checks and immunizations are an important part of ensuring infants and toddlers have a great start to life, but as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, immunization rates for children dropped significantly throughout the United States during the ongoing response to COVID-19. As we resume wellness appointments, families should feel confident that their children can safely stay up to date with routine health checkups and be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Making Wellness Visits a Priority
"Wellness checks help us monitor the health and development of infants and toddlers," said Erin Huebschman, MD. "These visits are a great opportunity to discuss any concerns parents might have about their child, such as eating/feeding issues, sleep schedules, growth and overall development. Seeing young patients regularly allows caregivers to make sure they are on track with milestones, work closely with families to find the cause of any problems, and implement interventions to prevent any effect on the child's long-term health and development. The other big component of wellness checks is keeping infants and children up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations."
WHY IT'S CONCERNING TO DELAY CARE
"We encourage families to schedule over-due and upcoming visits right away," explains Dr. Huebschman. "Well-child visits are very important for ALL kids, especially those 24 months and younger, and our best advice is to keep those appointments."
During the first 2 years of life, we give children much needed vaccines that help prevent diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, polio, hepatitis, whooping cough, meningitis and pneumonia, among others. The concern we have now is that because so many children have missed well child visits – leading to lower immunization rates – we could see an uptick in preventable diseases when kids return to daycare and school. This is especially true for whooping cough, which had already been increasing in many communities before COVID-19.
Along with vaccines, well-visits are also a time when we screen for anemia, lead poisoning and check for important growth and developmental milestones. The appointment is also a chance for you and your child to have any questions answered about COVID-19 that you may have thought about since all of our lives changed in March.
IT IS SAFE TO COME IN
Grant Regional Health Center has made many adjustments in our processes and spaces to make sure it is safe for families to visit for appointments at the hospital and at our three clinic locations.
Our Safe Care Promise
We want to reassure our patients that it's safe to come in for care. Our waiting rooms and clinic spaces have been separated to keep ill patients away from those who are not sick and allow for social distancing. We have also worked to shorten the amount of time families have to wait in the lobby before being seen.
Families will notice some changes for wellness visits and other medical exams at our clinic locations. We have gone to great lengths to make sure we can provide safe care for patients and families.
All patients or visitors are required to wear a mask inside Grant Regional Health Center if they: Have cold-like, respiratory symptoms, have known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID, or have recently tested positive for COVID
- Patients will be asked to maintain six feet social distancing from all other patients.
- For well-child visits, we ask that only one parent/caregiver accompany the child and not bring other siblings. Exceptions will be allowed, but parents should discuss their concerns when scheduling the appointment.
- Everyone will be asked a series of screening questions about any possible exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and if they have any symptoms – cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell or problems with vomiting or diarrhea. If those symptoms are present, the appointment should be rescheduled.
- Everyone will have their temperature checked. As long as their temperature is below 99.7 degrees F., they will be allowed to enter.
Important information to share with children before their visit
We understand some children may have fears related to wearing a mask or interacting with staff who are wearing masks. We suggest talking with them prior to their appointment to help children better understand the importance of wearing masks at this time:
- Explain to your child why it's important to wear a mask – to avoid spreading germs – and why other people are wearing masks. Make sure the mask covers the child's nose and mouth.
- Wear your mask around your home and have children wear masks to practice and to become accustomed to wearing one.
- Reward the child for wearing the mask and for not touching it.
- Decorate the mask with the child's favorite character or make a mask from material the child chooses.
- Explain that doctors and nurses will be wearing a mask just as mom or dad are, and that's okay.
- Be prepared to offer extra comfort to the child during their medical appointment.
Video Health Visits are an option
In addition to taking critical safety measures at all of our facilities, we also offer telehealth opportunities for patient care called video health visits. We have increased the capacity of our video and virtual visits to complement our face-to-face care. While virtual visits continue to be a convenient and comfortable option for many patients, we realize that not everything can be treated remotely, and we want our patients to know we're here for them if they need to be seen in person.
A video health visit consists of the patient making a specific appointment time with a clinic provider. At the scheduled time the patient will be sent a link to connect via the patient's computer, tablet, or smartphone. The visit is completed via a video connection just as if in an exam room. Video visits are appropriate for a number of non-emergency concerns, such as:
- Medication consultations
- Pink eye diagnosis
- Stomach flu issues
- Mental health visit
Telehealth is a nice option for families to get the care they need, in a different way. Our goal is to make appropriate health care easily accessible for our community.
For appointments at one of our three clinic locations in Lancaster, Cassville or Potosi, please call our clinic appointment line at 608.723.2131. #InThisTogether