Pediatricians see checkups, vaccinations plummet in pandemic

Coronavirus

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — Could fear over the Coronavirus pandemic lead to a larger outbreak of preventable diseases? That’s the fear of pediatricians around the country as doctors have seen visits from kids plummet. Dr. Katrina Skinner has a young man in her Fairhope Office for a checkup. It’s something she’s seeing less of in the pandemic. As the VP elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Alabama, Skinner says across the state, doctors have seen these sorts of visits plummet by half since the pandemic set in.

“Bringing a child in for vaccinations and routine checkups is an essential vital component of their wellness and it shouldn’t be delayed,” said Dr. Skinner. Pediatricians have also implemented new procedures in the pandemic for patients still coming into offices. Dr. Skinner says they keep sick and well patients separate and get people in and out quickly to minimize the threat of illness.

“All of our clinical staff is wearing PPE, we have closed our waiting room so no one is allowed to sit and wait. Basically our parking lot is now our waiting room,” said Dr. Skinner. She advises parents to try and get all necessary paperwork done ahead of time rather than when they arrive for their child’s appointment. They’re also asking parents to keep siblings who don’t have an appointment out of the office while their brother or sister is seen.

Dr. Skinner and a lot of pediatricians worry delaying or skipping wellness visits and vaccinations could lead to a rise in preventable illnesses like measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, and HPV-related cancers.

“Over half could be missing out on vaccinations, what’s that going to look like as we start to lift our stay at home orders we go around each other and our germs are going to spread, are we going to see a bigger measles outbreak than we’ve already had,” said Dr. Skinner.

Pediatricians specialize in monitoring the physical and emotional growth of kids, and wellness visits will keep children healthier today and far in the future.

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