According to a May 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant stay-at-home orders and necessary social distancing have unfortunately led to a significant decline in routine immunization rates for children.
Staying healthy requires people of all ages to remain current on their immunizations. The most vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illness are children. As in-person school has resumed for some, while continuing COVID-19 precautions, it is imperative to ensure all children are current on their routine immunizations.
Michael P. McGinnis, MD, FACP, FAAP, an Olathe Health physician who is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, explains the importance of remaining current on your routine immunizations, and how to get caught up if not current.
Why is it important to stick to an immunization schedule?
Following the guidance of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), standard routine immunization schedules efficiently provide children protection against illnesses that can lead to serious illness, life-long complications and even death. Adhering to these schedules start to provide protection from illnesses in the first few months of life, at a time when many of these infections can strike. Delaying or refusing these immunizations for your children can put their health at preventable risk.
What can I do if I’ve missed or delayed an immunization for my child?
If your child has missed an immunization, please contact your physician’s office to schedule an appointment for the immunization. Sometimes, insurance limitations require patients to obtain immunizations at their local health department. The CDC and AAP have outlined “catch-up” immunization schedules for those children who may be behind on their shots.
How is your clinic keeping well children and sick children separate during the COVID-19 pandemic?
At all of our Olathe Health clinics, our top priority is safety and protecting our patients and associates. We have implemented strict safety protocols in order to prevent the spread of illness. These efforts include screening all patients prior to their appointment, screening our associates daily, requiring all people who enter to wear masks, modifying our spaces and clinic layout to accommodate social distancing, and continuously cleaning all surfaces throughout the clinic and waiting rooms with disinfectants meeting the highest standards. Additionally, we have increased access for alternative options for appointments such as telehealth and video visits.
What’s the best way to protect my children from illness?
The best way to protect your children from illness is educating them on good hand hygiene and avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth. They should wash their hands properly with soap and water, and when needed, use hand sanitizer, wear a mask, avoid others who are coughing and sneezing and stay at least 6 feet away from others outside their home. Ensure they are current on their well checks and immunizations. Parents should also clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily in household common areas.
In addition to these recommendations, it is very important to ensure you and your children are getting proper nutrition and sleep, regular exercise and minimize screen time outside of school and work responsibilities. During this historic pandemic, many have faced job loss, illness and other burdens. While you continue your efforts at preventing potential exposures and staying safe, have faith and do not despair. Know we are all in this together, and we will continue to work to get through it. Better days will come.
To make an appointment with an Olathe Health provider, go to olathehealth.org/schedule or call 913-791-4396.