It’s time to head back to the pediatrician’s office: What parents need to know and expect during COVID-19

Even though our children are not going back in-person to the classroom this fall, this is usually the time of year when they get their annual physical at the pediatrician’s office— and this year should not be any different. As children develop, it is very important to keep reg- ular well-child visits with their pediatri- cian to keep up with medical issues, monitor development, and stay up to date with vaccines.

Unfortunately we are likely to be fac- ing COVID-19 realities for a while longer. However, we still need to ensure that our children are growing and thriv- ing during this time. Your pediatrician is part of the team to optimize this growth and development for your child. And while this year may feel different, fact is pediatrician offices are open, welcoming and safe for their patients and parents. Following is important information for preparing yourself and your child for the first visit back.

*Pediatricians are ensuring that their offices are clean, practice safe distanc- ing, and taking all needed precautions to ensure your safety and health during the visit.

*We know that the vaccines given at well-child visits prevent severe child- hood illnesses; and, we need to avoid additional outbreaks during this time. It is critical for your child to receive their flu vaccine this year, both for your family’s health and to avoid additional quarantines and restrictions based on flu symptoms.

*It is very important to follow up with all of your child’s specialists to make sure all health issues are well controlled for your child to continue to grow and thrive.

*Many pediatricians are offering tele- health visits for some types of health concerns. If you are uncomfortable com- ing into the office but your child needs to be evaluated, call your doctor to find out if this is an option.

*If you are unsure of what is required to come to the office (mask, social dis- tancing), or if you need more informa- tion or reassurance, call your doctor’s office to find out more.

While these are challenging times for all, parents should know that children are resilient, and are doing very well with understanding the modifications needed to safely see their doctor. Having parents and other family members model important behaviors like handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks in any public settings (for all children over two years of age) can help children feel more comfortable and confident during these times and help to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Rebecca G. Carter, MD, FAAP, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine and pediatrician at the University of Maryland Medical Center Pediatrics at Midtown.