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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Kids & Medical Care During the Pandemic

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Some kids might have gotten behind on their medical care because of delayed or canceled medical visits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It's very important for kids to see their doctors as needed, for well-child visits and other care. Here's what parents should know about visiting the doctor during this time.

Should Healthy Kids Still Go for Checkups?

It's always important for kids to have their growth, development, and well-being tracked by a doctor. This is especially true for newborns and children with complex health conditions. Finding health problems during checkups lets doctors give care to prevent them from getting worse. Not seeing a doctor until symptoms are more serious can affect a child's long-term health.

Find out how your health care provider is doing regular checkups. Some do virtual visits through telehealth or phone calls. Others offer in-person visits during special times when only healthy children are present.

Should Kids Still Get Vaccines?

Children still should get all their vaccines on schedule. Skipping vaccines could put them at risk for diseases that vaccines can prevent, such as measles and whooping cough. These illnesses have made a comeback, possibly because some kids are not getting their vaccinations. With communities and schools reopened, children are exposed to germs when in public. Those who aren't protected by vaccines will be more likely to get infected. Kids with an infection may have a harder time getting better if they also get COVID-19.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot each year. It's always important to protect your family from the flu. And everyone 5 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

What Should I Do if My Child Is Sick?

Children will still get bellyaches, ear infections, anxiety, and other health problems. Doctors are open for business and ready to help make kids feel better. Call your doctor's office to ask what to do. They will tell you whether you need an in-person visit or if telehealth is an option. They also can tell you what to do if your child needs care right away and they're not available.

What if We Have an Emergency?

Call 911 right away if your child might have a health emergency. Signs include your child turning blue, not breathing, being very hard to wake or rouse, or being unconscious.

Otherwise, it's always a good idea to call your doctor's office for advice or instructions. They might offer help over the phone or guide you to a local urgent care center or a hospital's emergency department.

How Are Health Care Facilities Protecting Patients and Families?

Clinics, doctor's offices, and hospitals have learned a lot about how to keep patients safe since the pandemic began. Health care providers wear masks and other protective gear, and are vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and the patients they care for.

To prevent the spread of the virus, they:

  • Do regular deep cleaning of the office and its furniture and equipment.
  • Limit the number of people in waiting areas. For example, they might have people wait in their car until a room is ready.
  • Screen people who enter the building by asking about symptoms or taking their temperature.
  • Require masks for all staff and any visitors over 2 years old.
  • Schedule well visits and sick visits at different times of the day. For example, they might do well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon. This lets healthy kids come in the morning after a thorough office cleaning.
  • Physically separate patients. They might see sick patients in a different room or even a different building from healthy kids who come for a checkup.
Date reviewed: November 2021