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A mother holds her son in her arms while a male doctor gives him a checkup.

Staying Current with Childhood Vaccinations is Critical During Coronavirus

By Dr. Suzanne Brixey, General Booth Pediatrics

The COVID-19 pandemic is on everyone’s mind, but we’re urging parents not to forget about vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, and other illnesses.

It’s critical right now to keep your children on track with vaccinations to protect them for life.

There’s no vaccination for COVID-19 yet, however, there are for a host of other diseases, some of which are even more devastating to children.

Many parents, though, are postponing well-child visits that include vaccinations during the pandemic. The Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics did a survey of more than 100 providers and found fewer children were being vaccinated during this time. Administration of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines to infants during a week in April, for instance, were only 70 percent of the volume given during a week in early March.

At CHKD pediatric practices, similar drops have occurred. Vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough administered during a week in April were only 77 percent of the levels given during a week in February. Vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella were 80 percent of earlier levels, and HPV vaccines only 47 percent.

We are worried about these children. The AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pediatricians prioritize well-child visits for newborns and young children through the age of 2 years to begin and maintain scheduled vaccinations.

We also want to make sure that 4- and 5-year-old children who need booster shots for diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella receive them. Eleven-year-old children also need tetanus and whooping cough boosters to prevent immunity from fading. Children should receive their first HPV vaccine at age 11 to protect against certain types of cancer, as well as a meningitis vaccine. Older adolescents need booster vaccines to protect against meningitis. And, our student athletes need screenings to make sure they are able to safely participate in sports.

Besides protecting your children against disease, we also want to make sure any medical issues are addressed as early as possible to provide the best possible care for your child, not just through the pandemic, but for life.

At all our CHKD pediatric practices, we are following guidelines provided by the AAP, taking every precaution to keep patients, families, and staff safe while keeping our offices open to serve the needs of our patients. We’ve implemented safety precautions that separate children who come in for well-child visits from children who are sick. We also have screening at our entrances to check for COVID-19 symptoms and provide cloth face masks for children and caregivers who arrive without them. All exam rooms are properly disinfected and cleaned after each use.

All of our staff members are screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms and must wear masks.

Staying connected to your physician for your child’s healthcare needs is important now more than ever. We want you to know that we are here to support you and your family during this uncertain time. Your child’s health remains our top priority.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.