The American Academy of Pediatrics is reporting that many Minnesota children are not seeing their pediatricians right now out of fear over COVID-19. This is putting children at risk for many other health issues – some more dangerous than COVID-19.
An estimated 70 to 80 percent of Minnesota children are delaying visits to the doctor, pushing aside important vaccinations, care for chronic health problems, and treatment of everyday illnesses because parents are understandably concerned about bringing their children to the pediatrician.
The Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) encourages parents to reach out to their local pediatricians now to determine the safest way for their child to get medical care.
“It is still important to get scheduled vaccines to protect children and prevent diseases like measles and pertussis, which can be dangerous for children and easily spread in communities,” said Dr. Lori DeFrance, MNAAP president. “If pediatricians across the country are seeing 30 percent of patients, that is a lot of vaccines that are delayed, which could have serious repercussions. Many parents are just not calling because they think we are busy – but we are not too busy to take care of children. We are still here to take care of children, and we know we cannot put children’s health on pause for two months.”
In addition to concerns about lower rates of immunizations, pediatricians worry about mental health issues in children and teens going untreated, including increased suicide attempts. Patient visits can take place in a variety of ways: over the phone, through a video visit, or if necessary, in-person. If an in-person visit is necessary, pediatric clinics have taken steps to ensure they happen safely. This may include separate “sick” and “well” visit entrances, seeing patients in the parking lot, or seeing newborns before the office opens to other patients. Parents are urged to consult with pediatricians to keep their child(ren) as healthy as possible during and after the pandemic.