Many of us are postponing routine medical visits while we wait for the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic to pass, but a local pediatrician warns that putting off vaccinations for children right now is a risky move.
Dr. Illeana Silva, pediatric director for San Antonio's University Health System, said delaying well-checks and vaccines for babies and toddlers could create a “vaccine gap” exposing a vulnerable segment of our community to life-threatening but avoidable diseases.
"We don't want to start seeing rises in serious diseases like measles and whooping cough that are vaccine-preventable," she said.
With residents hunkered down, Silva worries vaccinations may not be top of mind for many parents. Others may think bringing a young child to the doctor during the outbreak is dangerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Pediatrics have made recommendations to help doctors avoid contagion during the pandemic, including scheduling visits for healthy kids during one part of the day and those with symptoms during a different part.
Some pediatricians also have dedicated separate clinic space, including separate entrances for sick and well kids, while others are asking visitors to sit in their cars instead of the waiting room until it's time to be seen.
Even if parents aren't worried about their child running the risk of developing a serious disease while quarantined at home, Silva cautions that it may be difficult to get in for an appointment once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
"There's still going to be a catch-up period when pediatric offices are overwhelmed," she said. "We're only able to take in so much volume at one time."
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