MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children's pediatricians are encouraging families to not delay well-child visits due to COVID-19. Missed visits can lead to a lapse in important childhood vaccinations, leaving children vulnerable to dangerous, preventable diseases.
“We have noticed that there are well-child checks that have been put off,” Kathryn Moffett, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases specialist, said. “We need to keep up with our regular schedule of visits. They are really important for child wellness, and we want to keep our children well through routine healthcare.”
According to Dr. Moffett, West Virginia typically falls behind at vaccines for three-year-olds, but children get caught up at age five before heading into kindergarten. Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are hesitant to take their children out in public for fear being exposed to the disease.
“Here at WVU Medicine, we are doing things in a very safe manner,” Moffett said. “We are limiting visitors in order to prevent exposure, and patients are going directly to the room where they will be seen instead of sitting in waiting rooms. We are requiring that everyone, including patients, visitors, and staff, wear masks. We are making it a point to frequently wash our hands and have improved our cleaning procedures. We are making it as safe as possible, and I can say that we have not had any cases attributed to hospital visits.”
Well-child checks are more than vaccine visits. Pediatricians screen children for growth, speech, and developmental milestones. Physicians are able to provide access to support for families who are having a difficult time providing adequate nutrition and other issues. These services are of particular importance for families who have been affected financially by the pandemic.
Though children seem to be less affected by COVID-19, there seems to be a benefit to children who have been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
“While children 17 and younger make up 22 percent of the population, they only account for one percent of COVID-19 admissions,” Moffett said. “We’ve looked at this population to see if there is something that stands out, and it seems that there is a benefit to being fully vaccinated.”
Moffett stressed the importance of staying up-to-date on all vaccines, particularly MMR.
“We had a measles outbreak last year, and it was horrible,” she said. “Luckily, we didn’t have any cases here in West Virginia because we have high vaccination rates. The issue is that you don’t get a mild case of the measles, and it makes children really sick. If your child gets the measles, they are likely going to be admitted to the hospital. We don’t need to see an outbreak of the measles on top of COVID-19.”
For more information on WVU Medicine Children’s, visit Childrens.WVUMedicine.org.