Now more than ever, we should protect our children from infectious diseases.
María is a young mother who lives with her family in South Phoenix. Maria’s son, Lucas, was born a little over one year ago.
Like many first-time mothers, María has strictly followed all the instructions provided by her doctors in regard to both her and Lucas’ health and well-being. About two weeks ago, when COVID-19 cases began to drastically increase in our community, María began to ask herself this question:
“Should I wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end, to take my son to his medical visits and vaccinations?”
María, out of fear of Coronavirus, did not schedule the yearly check-up and vaccines for little Lucas.
It’s easy to understand María’s dilemma and the challenges that she and many parents are currently facing because of the pandemic. Some parents are thinking twice about leaving their homes with their children out of fear of catching the virus. But now more than ever, is the time to comply with well-child visits to help keep children healthy and growing strong.
“Medical examinations and the applying of vaccines are essential for a minor’s health. It is the best way to make sure our children are protected. Children who are not vaccinated have a high probability of contracting other illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, influenza, and other infections,” said Dr. Mark Stephan, Chief Medical Officer at Equality Health. “This is why we must continue to visit the doctor during this pandemic to perform medical exams and vaccines that are appropriate for their age.”
It is also important to highlight that avoiding well-child visits limits the doctor’s ability to detect any abnormalities in physical, social, and emotional development, which results in a reduced capacity to detect health problems early.
The New Normal at the Medical Clinic
María decided to contact Lucas’ pediatrician’s office, who is a member of Equality Health’s network of healthcare professionals. María was told that new, additional protection had been added to keep people safe, including requiring adults at the doctor’s office to wear a facemask. She was also told that the medical clinic will be sanitized more frequently, and that the pediatric’s office will separate children from those who may be sick by scheduling visits at different times.
After speaking with the physician’s office, María felt calm and the discussion gave her the confidence she needed to schedule her son’s medical visit to the medical clinic for his yearly vaccines.
“We consider it safe to go to the doctor’s office. We recommend that you speak with the office beforehand to understand the new safety measures being used and what you need to do when arriving at the clinic,” said Dr. Stephan.
It’s important to note that a child’s pediatrician works closely with parents to maintain the health of children, and according to recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in-person medical examinations and vaccines are still necessary. The AAP also recommends that babies and children must see the doctor for physicals, lab tests, and hearing, vision, and oral health screenings.
Towards the end of the visit, María was informed about possible side effects from the vaccinations and the virtual consultations through Telehealth for certain medical conditions that do not require patients to attend in-person visits.
“I think it is very important to have the correct information when making our decision. Today I feel much better about my son receiving his vaccines. Now we must do our part by using facemasks and maintaining social distance, and only leaving the house when completely necessary,” said María. “Today I understand, regardless of the pandemic, keeping up with Lucas’ well-child visits in a safe environment will always be essential.”
Published in Prensa Arizona, 08/13/2020