Pediatricians urge families not to fall behind on back to school check-ups

Posted at 11:39 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 23:39:17-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- While families prepare for back to school, pediatricians are urging another step on the checklist: annual physicals.

They want to make sure families don’t fall behind on back to school check-ups and vaccinations.

“Since school should have already started and we’re on a little bit of a delay, people have definitely been trickling in and I feel like the back-to-school period has just extended,” said Dr. Rachel Dawkins, with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

She said pediatricians are taking precautions to make sure visits are safe.

“It’s safe to come to your pediatrician’s office. We’re taking all kinds of precautions to make sure you and your families are as safe as can be and that we and our staff are as safe as can be too,” she said.

“Get out to your pediatrician and get their vaccinations. The AAP has put out a call-your-pediatrician campaign knowing -- especially during lockdown -- a lot of kids missed their vaccines and as a pediatrician, that’s scary,” said Dr. Meredith Plant, an assistant professor of pediatrics at USF.

The Florida Department of Health's (DOH) information on vaccines administered to those 18 and under, reported to Florida SHOTS, showed a decrease in vaccines reported given from May to July this year compared to last year.

According to the DOH, as of July 2, 2020, there were 509,315 vaccines reported administered in May 2019, 508,854 in June 2019 and 653,129 in July 2019. There were 411,664 in May 2020 and 494,846 in June 2020. As of July 30, 2020, there were 472,644 vaccines reported administered in July 2020.

Now Dawkins explained a different picture.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in our vaccination rates as people come back to the office but it’s really important you keep your kids up to date on their vaccines so we’re not seeing a spread of vaccine-preventable illness, on top of COVID,” she said.

It’s more than that, though. They said it’s also a chance to check in with kids.

“We can talk about growth, development and school readiness and all of the concerns you might have right now due to coronavirus,” said Dawkins.

“We check on development, socially how the kid’s doing, mental health issues, all kinds of stuff. We really try to check up during that time,” said Plant.