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Skipping child vaccine appointments during COVID-19 crisis could put community in danger

Vaccine visits essential to keeping community safe from different outbreak down the road

SAN ANTONIO – While parents with young children are working tirelessly to protect the little ones from COVID-19, a local pediatrician said they shouldn’t forget about protecting kids and the community from other diseases.

University Health System Pediatric Director Dr. Illeana Silva want parents to know that skipping a wellness visit that includes a vaccine is not a good idea. But some parents don’t appear to be getting the message.

“Initially, we are seeing a huge drop in patients,” Dr. Silva said.

Sara Dickinson and her husband have two daughters, ages two and four months.

Dickinson admits it’s a scary time to have young children.

“Riley was born 10 weeks early, so obviously anything like this can be very dangerous for her,” Dickinson said about her 2-month old.

Despite some fear, Dickinson took Riley to get her vaccinations Tuesday.

"It's our duty to our children and to other members of society," she said.

“Vaccines are essential to prevent diseases, such as mumps, measles, whooping cough. And we do still have outbreaks of measles and whooping cough,” Silva said.

Silva said vaccination well visits are categorized essential for that reason.

To make appointments safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Pediatrics have made recommendations.

“They have recommended to schedule well visits in the morning and schedule sick visits in the afternoon, that way the populations don’t mix. Also to have one side of the clinic dedicated to well visits, with its own entrance and exit,” Silva said.

Silva said parents are asked to drive up to the building so they can get screened for symptoms and get checked in.

“All in their car, instead of a waiting room,” Silva said. “When their appointment comes up, they get a call and walk in through an entrance.”

“I was a little curious on how it was going to work with the social distancing and not taking them out. Thankfully, they had it designed where I could just go in. There was very little interaction with people,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson wants other parents to know, her appointment was safe and encourages them to go.

“I take it very seriously. Not only for my children’s protection, but for the other children in the community and other vulnerable people,” she said.

Silva said pediatricians are prioritizing visits that require vaccines.

For other regular check-ups, many parents can use telemedicine. But Silva acknowledges some health insurance policies don’t cover telemedicine for well visits.

If that’s the case, Silva said that parents should call their pediatrician to see if it’s necessary for their child to come in, or postpone the visit until later.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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