ATLANTA — It's another side effect of COVID-19 that has doctors disturbed: young children missing important appointments with their pediatrician.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors estimate 70 to 80 percent of children are not seeing their doctor right now.
"We think it's because parents have been told to stay home, and they're scared to come out and they're scared to come in a medical facility of all places," Dr. Sally Goza, President of the Academy of American Pediatrics, told 11Alive.
Goza, who practices in Fayetteville, GA, said doctors not having an eye on young patients can mean both physical and mental repercussions.
"We don't need a measles outbreak ... and we don't need babies getting meningitis," she said, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the vaccination schedule.
"We're also concerned about anxiety and depression these young children are feeling," Dr. Goza said. "We're seeing anxiety in young children because their routine is all messed up."
According to the latest AAP guidelines, the academy recommends well-child care in person when possible, but Dr. Goza said parents should know pediatricians are also getting innovative.
"Telehealth has taken off," she said. "A lot of people are doing virtual visits for things we can do."
According to Dr. Goza, practices may also be implementing other solutions such as:
- Staggering patients with well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon
- Keeping separate entrances
- Requiring masks
- Asking patients to wait in the car to avoid the waiting room
"Then there are also times we're going out in the cars," Dr. Goza said, "listening to their lungs or looking in their ears, some are giving vaccinations in the car, some practices are doing testing in their car."
With new measures in place, Dr. Goza is urging families to call their pediatrician about how and when kids can be seen, rather than cancel due to the pandemic.
"We are here to take care of your children," she said. "We are here for your family, and we want you to know that."
The AAP also recommends families visit www.HealthyChildren.org for important health information.