NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Pediatricians are concerned about a possible side effect of the coronavirus: falling numbers of children receiving vaccines for other diseases.
At some pediatricians’ offices, COVID-19 has virtually cleared out the waiting rooms and exam rooms.
“There were several days that we had very few kids coming in for checkups, especially the older kids,” said Dr. Karen McClard, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates of Dallas.
The well-child visit is a hallmark of childhood, complete with vaccinations for the youngest patients, as well as 4, 11 and 16-year-olds.
“What I’m really seeing are the kids that only gets shots once a year, those kids are really falling behind,” she said.
And she worries that could lead to decreased immunity and the reemergence of diseases from the past.
“For example, measles is so contagious that, once a few people start to catch it that didn’t get their boosters at their four-year checkup, it is not going to be long before the entire kindergarten class has it if none of those kids got their shots,” she said.
Chicken pox, pertussis, and meningitis also come to mind, she said. She’s also concerned about a backlog of appointments several months from now that could further delay immunizations.
“If you put your checkup off for a couple months, and then you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m ready to come in now’, everyone may be doing that, and it may be two or three months again before you can get in. The next thing you know, you’re six, eight months behind on your shot schedule. That could make a difference.”
In addition to vaccinations, doctors say well-child visits are important to ensure that your child is meeting age-appropriate benchmarks and milestones.
They also say it’s beneficial for kid’s — and parent’s — mental health to have a doctor answer questions about COVID-19.