It’s that time of year again! The start of the 2021-2022 school year is just a few weeks away, and we’re all busy trying to get some family fun in before the summer ends. All the while, we’re also still in the midst of the coronavirus-19 pandemic. Your child’s school may require that their routine immunizations are up to date before the first day of school. According to a study published in July 2021 in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) official journal, routine childhood vaccinations declined significantly in all children but more dramatically in those under 24 months of age during the stay-at-home period of the coronavirus-19 pandemic. They also found that immunizations in children stayed reduced after re-opening during the pandemic. As a result, many children are not up to date with their vaccinations, as recommended by the CDC, and therefore are at an increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. These children might be traveling this summer and might return to in-person school in a few weeks, where they could encounter these diseases.

It is well documented that many children have missed well-child visits during most of the coronavirus-19 pandemic due to multiple factors. Fear of becoming ill while at the doctor’s office, closure of their pediatrician’s office, and decreased access to their doctor are a few reasons for the lack of appropriate medical care during the pandemic. If you haven’t made your appointment to see your child’s pediatrician, now is the time to do so if they are missing vaccinations, if you have concerns about your child, or if it has been at least one year since their last appointment. Children under the age of 2 have more frequent visits due to their rapid growth and development. Check with your pediatrician’s office to see if your child is due for an evaluation.

Below are my top 10 tips to help your next child’s well visit go smoothly.

  1. Set up the appointment as soon as possible. Pediatricians are trying to play catch up with all the overdue well-visits.

  2. Make a list of concerns that you have worried about. Your pediatrician may only have time to address a couple of those concerns during the first visit. If you have a long list, make multiple appointments to discuss 1-2 concerns per visit.

  3. If your pediatrician isn’t available, you may need to see another pediatrician. If this is the case, prepare your child ahead of time if they are old enough to understand. Seeing a new doctor could be unsettling for a child.

  4. Be 15-20 minutes early. You will need to complete questionnaires before seeing your pediatrician. Well-exam visits are meant to be comprehensive and cover a lot of information about your child. These visits typically are not used to address an illness. A good well-exam visit addresses social, emotional, and physical development, school performance, review of social, medical, family histories, routine immunizations, and screening tests.

  5. Bring in your child’s vaccination record, insurance card, and any medications your child is taking. Feel free to bring the actual bottle(s).

  6. Bring your child’s school or sports or camp forms, if needed. Also, remember to bring in any forms for medications used at school, such as breathing treatments.

  7. Please speak to your child about what they might experience at the doctor’s office. Try to give her an idea of how the experience might ease any anxiety about the visit. Here are some suggestions.

  8. “Elena, we are going to check-in at the doctor’s office, and you should keep your mask on until your doctor is ready to see your smile.”

  9. “A medical assistant will check your temperature, blood pressure, see how tall you are, and how much you’ve grown. Then, you’ll meet your doctor, who will first speak with us about how you’re doing and what you are doing to stay healthy.”

  10. “Your doctor wants you to grow well and needs to check your body.” She will start by looking at you, and then your doctor will ask permission to check your eyes, ears, nose, neck, chest, belly, back, arms, legs. She will ask you to jump up and down. She may need to check your private parts, too. Don’t worry; I will be there with you.”

  11. “At the end of the visit, your doctor will let you know how you can continue staying healthy.”

  12. Ask your pediatrician to review your child’s growth on the CDC or WHO growth charts. We may pick up on poor growth or growth that is too rapid and needs further evaluation. I personally love looking at my children’s charts at our visits.

  13. Make the following appointments before leaving the office: The next well-child exam, any follow-up appointments to address concerns you or your pediatrician may have.

  14. Reward your child! Take her out for ice cream or have a picnic at your local park. Let her know you are proud of her for cooperating at the visit.

Hopefully, these tips are helpful to you. Would you please leave a comment if this was helpful? Share with your friends and family who may benefit from this article. Enjoy the rest of the summer! Remember to be kind, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask per your local health department guidelines, get your COVID-19 vaccination if you’re able to, and call your pediatrician with any concerns.

With love,

Dr. Munoz Join our mailing list to be the first to hear about our news and blog posts.