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Child Wellness Visits Drop Due To Coronavirus Fears

Doctors are encouraging parents to reschedule any canceled appointments. [YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock]
Doctors are encouraging parents to reschedule any canceled appointments. [YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock]

MetroHealth reports it has seen a more than 50 percent drop in child wellness visits, and it’s not the only health system to see declines.

Health officials are warning that not taking children to wellness visits could lead to long-term health issues, such as delayed diagnoses of illnesses and flare-ups of chronic conditions like asthma.

Many wellness visits were postponed during the state’s initial response to COVID-19, but now that offices have opened back up, health officials are concerned that there’s still a drop in such visits.

Registered Nurse Sheri Davis of the Butler County Educational Service Center said the decline in wellness checks is because parents are trying to protect their kids.

“They’re afraid to bring their kids there. It’s not because they don’t want their kids to have these things, it’s not because they don’t love their kids and want the best for their child, it’s because they’re scared,” she said.

Davis wants parents to know that pediatricians and other doctors have taken steps to make sure their offices are as safe as possible during the global pandemic, like keeping healthy patients separate from potential COVID-19 patients.

The drop in children’s wellness visits is a national trend, which means it could have a national impact on health. Kids are missing vaccinations, which some warn could lead to a resurgence in other viruses like measles that are otherwise controllable.

“COVID-19 will wax and wane, but if we don’t have these kids getting their vaccinations, you’re going to run into other problems, with measles popping back up, or mumps, or chicken pox, all of those things that are completely controllable,” said Kelly Vyzral of the Children’s Defense Fund Ohio.

Telehealth is an option for many doctors' visits, and Vyzral said she hopes it continues even after the pandemic. But she said there's no way to give a vaccination without the child coming to the office. 

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158