Pediatric HealthSource: Is It Safe to Visit the Doctor?

Sara Bode
Sara Bode, M.D., bottom left

Q: I’m feeling nervous about my child’s annual well visit because of COVID-19. Is it safe to keep our doctor’s appointment?

A: We have not seen a pandemic in more than 100 years, so it is completely understandable for parents to be worried about taking their child back to the doctor in the midst of so much uncertainty. Many parents have canceled nonurgent appointments due to concerns regarding potential coronavirus exposure. That said, it is so important to keep well-visit appointments so that a child can get the physical exams, developmental screenings and necessary vaccines on schedule.

Doctors, nurses and the rest of your child’s care team are putting safety first for patients, families and staff. To ensure the highest level of safety, many physicians’ offices are taking steps such as: seeing sick patients at a different time of day from well patients; requiring all staff to wear masks, gloves and eye protection to decrease the risk of exposure; and reducing the number of appointments booked in a single day to ensure social distancing in waiting rooms. Extra cleaning is also being done between patients. All these important steps should provide a deeper sense of security; of course, parents and their children (unless they are younger than 2 years old) should wear masks, too.

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When everyone follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suggested safety guidelines, it is not only possible to take your child to their well visit, it’s encouraged. If parents have any questions or want to discuss their concerns about returning for care, calling their child’s doctor is the best first step.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health. If your family needs to find a doctor, call 614-722-KIDS.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog:

Sara Bode, M.D., is a primary care physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Advice for Little Ones

As much as we want them to be safe from germs, children younger than 2 should never be masked due to the risk of suffocation as well as increased face touching in older infants and young toddlers when they try to remove the mask. Here’s how to keep these kids safe:

  • Limit exposure. Avoid unnecessary public contact, always follow the 6-foot distancing rule and keep outings short whenever possible.

  • Cover the carrier. If going out is essential, parents can cover an infant carrier (not the infant) with a blanket. This protects the baby but still allows them to breathe comfortably. The carrier should always be in parents’ view when it is covered.

  • Keep hands clean. Wash everyone’s hands (siblings included) frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially when you return home.