By the time a child turns 2 years of age in the U.S., they have been vaccinated against 14 illnesses we can now prevent. Early and timely vaccination is critical, as many of the vaccine preventable illnesses are more serious for younger children. Similarly, timely development screening is important. When your child goes to the pediatrician’s office for shots, you’re able to discuss your child’s development with their primary care providers, and children undergo developmental screening for possible concerns that can be addressed through early intervention.
Many families feel unsure if they should take their child to the pediatrician for well child visits right now, and as a result, important vaccinations and developmental screenings are being delayed. You may be trying to weigh concern for your child’s health against concerns regarding the coronavirus and the need for social distancing. So, what should you do?
Parents and caregivers should know that pediatricians are open to working with you to get your child vaccinated and screened. Call your child’s health care provider and ask how to best schedule vaccinations and screenings. Discuss the concerns you have about bringing your child into the office. Most pediatric offices have put a number of safeguards in place to protect patients and families. Some of these measures include scheduling well child visits and sick child visits on different days or times of day so the office can be thoroughly disinfected after sick visits, having families wait in the car instead of the waiting room and even administering some screenings and vaccinations in the car. Different providers have different strategies, but they all share the same goal – to ensure each child is safely screened and vaccinated.
You can check if your child is due for vaccinations with the Center for Disease Control’s vaccine schedule. You can also download the CDC’s Milestone Tracker App (download here, the App Store or Google Play) to learn more about your child’s development. The app provides a checklist of milestones your child will reach at different ages, activities parents can do to boost their child’s development and information about how to talk to your child’s doctor if you are concerned about your child’s development. The most important thing to do is to call your child’s pediatrician and make a plan together for your child’s well visits.
Cari Roestel is a nurse case manager and ECHO Autism Coordinator at the Pediatric Developmental Center at Illinois Masonic Medical Center & Advocate Children’s Hospital and the CDC’s Learn the Signs, Act Early Ambassador for the state of Illinois.