With families abiding by statewide ‘stay-at-home’ orders earlier this year, many kids missed their well visit appointments. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says immunization rates dropped 22 percent or more in some parts of the country. Here’s how to make sure kids stay healthy and protected:
SCHEDULE YOUR CHILD’S WELLNESS CHECKUP
“Your pediatrician isn’t only concerned about your child’s physical health but also emotional and developmental well-being,” says Heidi Weinroth, MD, a pediatrician with Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper University Health Care. “We look at the whole picture and check blood pressure and BMI and make sure kids are growing. But we also screen for anxiety and depression, and we talk to teens about behaviors such as vaping and drugs.” Some portions may be done by telemedicine.
ASK ABOUT OTHER SCREENINGS
Some schools aren’t performing certain tests this year, so your pediatrician should check hearing and vision for elementary schoolers and scoliosis for middle schoolers. “Another issue I discuss with kids is wearing your mask correctly, including over your nose,” says Weinroth. “I want to help parents find one that fits properly so kids are comfortable and protected.”
CATCH UP ON VACCINES
“What’s concerning is that vaccines that were delayed may not be caught up,” says David Cennimo, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatric infectious diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “There’s an optimal window when kids should receive these vaccines.” If you’re not sure what your child needs, call your pediatrician’s office ASAP and check healthychildren.org for an immunization schedule.
GET A FLU SHOT
The CDC and AAP recommend everyone ages 6 months and older receive the vaccine annually (you, too!). During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever, experts say. “We don’t want to go into the winter without protection against the flu so that we’re dealing with the risk of two respiratory illnesses at the same time,” says Cennimo.