Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Are Pediatric Offices Open Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic? YES!

Gary W. Floyd, MD
Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Keller
Chair, Texas Medical Association (TMA) Board of Trustees
Member, TMA

As a parent you might wonder, “Are pediatric offices open during this COVID-19 pandemic?”

Yes, most definitely, our pediatric offices are open to provide care during this time. As pediatricians, we believe it is very important to keep well-child visits to check growth and development, answer questions, discuss safety issues, check on patients’ emotional state during this stressful time, and give regular vaccinations. We realize shots are no fun, but they are far better than getting pertussis (whooping cough), polio, pneumonia, rotavirus, or measles. It’s important to keep up with measles vaccinations especially, after recent outbreaks in 2018 and 2019. In fact, more than 117 million kids are at risk of not getting a measles vaccine as a result of global vaccination programs on hold during the pandemic, according to a recent United Nations report. If the immunization rates begin falling, as soon as people start being around each other again, those outbreaks will start springing up and those can be devastating in and of themselves. The last thing we need is another outbreak of a preventable disease in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis. 

Just to remind you, children need regular well visits at ages 2 weeks, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 2 years, 2.5 years, 3 years, and yearly after that through age 21. Your doctor administers important vaccinations at birth and at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 to 15 months, 18 months, 4-6 years, 9-12 years, and 16 to 18 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the immunization schedule for children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's important for children to be up-to-date with their vaccinations,
especially after recent outbreaks (measles) in 2018 and 2019.
Heather Hazzan, SELF Magazine
We realize many parents are hesitant to come to our offices, but please be assured that many physicians have changed how our offices work to help you and your children avoid needless contact with potentially sick patients. Some offices see well visits in the mornings and sick visits in the afternoon, while others close off certain exam rooms specifically for checkups and others exclusively for patients who are ill. Other pediatrics offices and clinics separate patients into a well visit waiting area and a sick visit waiting area. Many physicians even have parents and children wait in their car until they can be taken to an exam room. These are just a few of the many adjustments put in place to help ensure patient safety. Plus, all offices are disinfecting exam rooms after each visit.

We encourage parents to call their pediatrician to discuss how their office is working to cut down any chance of exposure and to schedule your child’s next regular well visit. We are here to keep all little Texans healthy and safe – from coronavirus AND everything else that could come their way.   

VIDEO: COVID-19: You're scared of coming in...we're scared of you NOT coming in

Austin pediatrician and Texas Medical Association physician leader Ari Brown, MD, is just one of many Texas physicians who have taken extra precautions for seeing child patients during the COVID-19. View the video below to get a sense of what she and similar practices are doing to make sure young Texans stay healthy and safe.

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