4 Reasons to Stick to Your Child’s Vaccine Schedule During COVID-19
Parents have a lot on their plates right now as they try to protect their children from coronavirus — from possibly becoming a caregiver and teacher 24/7 to learning about health and safety for their family. Understandably, parents have many questions. “Is it safe to take my child to the doctor for a routine wellness visit and vaccinations?” is one of the most common questions right now.
Recent data shows that many parents are skipping or delaying vaccinations and wellness visits during the pandemic, and it’s a trend that is concerning doctors across the country. Nationwide, comparing the week ending April 5 to the week of Feb. 16, vaccinations dropped 42 percent for diphtheria and whooping cough, and 50 percent for measles, mumps, and rubella. This data comes from PCC, a Vermont-based company that develops electronic health records for pediatricians.
“We understand parents’ caution; yet, we don’t want to see children becoming severely ill from preventable diseases like measles, meningitis, or whooping cough,” says Dr. Cody Matthews, a family medicine physician who cares for children, teens, and adults at LeBauer HealthCare at Grandover Village. “We have extensive measures in place to help prevent exposure to coronavirus in our offices. In fact, it’s safer than going out to a store or restaurant, and it’s much better for children to get their routine vaccines or vaccine boosters at the recommended ages than it is to put these off.”
Dr. Matthews shares these four reasons parents should make and keep appointments for vaccines and wellness visits.
Vaccinations are designed to help children build immunity to diseases that can cause severe or even life-threatening symptoms and complications. While recommended vaccines for children protect them from 14 different diseases, a few of the health problems that can occur include:
Measles – Measles can lead to bronchitis, croup, and pneumonia. Anyone with a compromised immune system can develop a dangerous variety of pneumonia that can be fatal.
Mumps – Complications from mumps are rare, but it can lead to inflammation of the brain or the spinal cord, as well as hearing loss or heart problems.
Rubella – Rubella can cause serious problems for unborn babies if their mother contracts the disease during pregnancy. Health issues for these babies can include growth delays, deafness, and congenital heart defects.
Bacterial Meningitis – Bacterial meningitis is serious and can be fatal within days without prompt antibiotic treatment. Delayed treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death. There are three different types of vaccines that can help protect children and teens from bacterial meningitis.
Whooping Cough – Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Deaths associated with whooping cough are rare but most commonly occur in infants. Infants may not have the typical coughing symptoms, but instead may struggle to breathe, or they may even temporarily stop breathing.
A visit for a vaccine also lets the doctor check on other important health markers for your child. All of the screenings doctors complete at a routine visit can help identify any possible health issues early.
If your child contracts an illness, they could infect younger siblings, grandparents, or family members who may have a weaker immune system. Many of the diseases prevented by vaccines are highly contagious. While one child may have a mild case of an illness, they can easily spread it to other people who may not be able to fight off the disease as easily and then develop serious complications.
If immunization rates drop within a community, vaccine-preventable diseases might once again become common threats. Outbreaks of a disease become a possibility when the number of people vaccinated in a community dips below a certain threshold, usually below about 90 to 95 percent.
“Keeping vaccination rates up can help us prevent a second crisis within the current COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Matthews.
“For example, many areas of the country have seen measles outbreaks in recent years due to low vaccination rates. The spread of measles or any other preventable disease layered on top of COVID-19 would complicate care and treatment for patients and cause an extra strain on valuable health resources needed for COVID-19 care.”
Learn About Cleanliness and Safety at LeBauer
Every LeBauer HealthCare location is taking extra precautions to keep both adult and pediatric patients safe. These steps include:
- Distancing While Waiting – Studies have proven that social distancing works, and we have taken numerous measures to ensure you can maintain a 6-foot distance from others in our offices. We have removed a large number of chairs from our waiting areas and are prioritizing efficiency.
- Everyone Wears a Mask – All staff members wear masks, and we have requested that all parents and children over the age of two bring a mask. If you don’t have a mask, we can provide one.
- Pre-Appointment Screening for All Patients – With our pre-screening process, patients coming into the office are free from COVID-19 symptoms. We offer virtual care visits for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and, when needed, referral for testing at Cone Health sites.
Need Care for Your Child?
Whether your child needs vaccinations and a wellness visit or is experiencing an illness, the family medicine professionals at LeBauer can provide quality, compassionate care. In addition to Dr. Matthews at our Grandover Village location, LeBauer has family medicine physicians and nurse practitioners at seven other locations in the Triad area (all primary are locations except Elam Ave.) Request an appointment for your child with our easy online form or call the office most convenient for you.