June 29, 2020

Time to reschedule canceled well-child doctor visits delayed by pandemic

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Those canceled pediatrics visits over the last several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic: It’s time to reschedule.

Otherwise, children could be facing a resurgence of flu and other illnesses typically kept in check by vaccinations, says a Purdue University instructor who specializes in pediatrics.

Meg Sorg, a clinical assistant professor and a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Services, encourages parents to call pediatricians or county health departments to schedule those important vaccinations before the start of school.

“Well-child checks are important to monitor your child’s growth and development and to make sure they are current with their vaccinations,” Sorg said. “Providers screen kids and teens for things such as lead poisoning, anemia, depression and anxiety, and risk behaviors at well-child visits. The visits help make sure your child’s physical, developmental and mental health needs are being met.”

The cancelation of pediatrician visits and declines in vaccination rates caused by the pandemic have raised concern with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has issued vaccination recommendations.

Vaccinations are important, Sorg says, and help protect children against devastating infectious diseases, which is even more key during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some age groups need only one visit to complete their yearly vaccinations. Other age groups, such as infants, might need additional visits to get caught up.

“We can’t forget about the vaccine-preventable diseases right now, or we could see a resurgence of those in addition to COVID-19,” Sorg said.

Sorg suggests that when making an appointment with either a health care provider or county health department, parents should ask about their requirements on wearing masks, hand-sanitizing practices, the checking-in process and special hours for well-child visits in order to limit exposure to others in the doctor’s office.

Sorg adds that there is one vaccine that people can’t get right now and will have to return when it’s available: the yearly flu shot.

“Getting the flu vaccine this fall is going to be very important,” Sorg said. “The flu makes you really sick – and it makes you more vulnerable to other illnesses, such as COVID-19. Employ all of the protective measures you can against both – handwashing, masking, social distancing – but adding that extra layer of protection with the flu vaccine will only help to keep you well.” 

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Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Source: Meg Sorg. For interviews, please contact Matthew Oates at oatesw@purdue.edu 

Note to Journalists: A stock image is available on Google Drive. Meg Sorg is available for phone and web-based conference interviews.

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