Office Visit: Make Time for Health Checkups

Office Visit: Make Time for Health Checkups

Lee esto en EspañolBy Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D.

With everything going on, it’s easy to forget what day of the week it is, not to mention forgetting to make important health appointments for your children.

If you’re guilty of the latter, you’re not alone: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a significant drop in childhood immunizations due to families staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even during a pandemic, parents should continue routine well-child visits and immunizations for their children, as recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). I understand parents may have concerns about visiting a doctor’s office, health department, or immunization clinic right now. However, I can assure you health care providers are adhering to rigid protocols to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

Some students have returned to classrooms in recent weeks, and while Coronavirus is the primary concern, it’s important to remember the CDC-recommended immunization schedule mitigates the risk of an outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases like hepatitis A and B, measles, and whooping cough. Whether your kids are attending school in-person or virtually, be sure to keep up with immunization requirements for their age and school attendance in Oklahoma. Shot records are necessary for children entering Pre-K, Kindergarten and 7th grade.

For an easy way to check immunizations off your to-do list, consider visiting an Oklahoma Caring Van clinic near you. The mobile clinics provide immunizations required by Oklahoma law for enrollment in schools or childcare facilities. Services are provided at no charge to children, six weeks through 18 years old, who qualify; this includes children who are uninsured, Medicaid eligible or American Indian. The Caring Vans follow CDC guidelines, including thorough sanitation, social distancing and personal protective equipment for staff. For a full schedule of clinics, visit oklahomacaringfoundation.org

As we move into flu season, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to further complicate an already difficult time of year for health care workers. The best defense against the flu is for all members of your family to get a flu shot. As always, be sure to practice proper handwashing, keep your distance from others, and stay home if you’re sick.

Parents are being forced to make tough decisions for the wellbeing of their children these days, but your child’s checkup shouldn’t be one of them. Take the time to make necessary appointments to keep your family safe this fall.

Dr. Joseph R. CunninghamJoseph R. Cunningham, M.D. is the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

For more Office Visit columns by Dr. Cunningham, visit The Journal Record. 

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