Answers for Parents: What to Do When Your Child Needs Care During the Pandemic?

It’s more important than ever to do what we can to keep our families healthy.

June 30, 2020  

Elizabeth Lange, M.D., a pediatrician at Coastal Medical-Waterman Pediatrics, talks about kids’ ongoing health needs during the pandemic.

Q: What should parents do if they aren’t sure what’s best for their kids?

A: If families have questions, they should call their child’s provider. As the children’s medical home, the office staff and clinicians know your family and your child well. Over the phone, we can talk about your child’s next office appointment as well as what screenings and vaccines are due.

Q: Should parents delay their child’s immunizations?

A: No. Vaccinations are important, especially in a pandemic. Look what’s happened to the world because we don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19. When they can, kids should stay on their vaccine schedule. Vaccines protect your child from serious and preventable diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough. A drop in the number of kids getting vaccines could lead to outbreaks of these and other vaccine preventable diseases. The well child visits with vaccines due are typically baby visits up to age 2, and at 4, 11, 16 and 18 years of age. 

Q: Are providers using telehealth visits for kids?

A: Many providers who take care of children are talking with families through remote platforms using video connections or the telephone. On the calls, providers can talk about common illnesses and injuries. They also can talk about how the child and family are doing during the pandemic.

Q: Will my child be safe is she visits her provider?

A: Providers’ offices are taking steps to see kids in a safe and controlled way when they need an in-office visit. Most providers keep sick and well child visits on separate schedules. To maintain social distancing, we’re reducing the number of staff and patients in the office as well as reducing the time families spend in the office. To help with this, some providers may complete the history part of the office visit in a phone call before the family enters the office. The check in and check out work is often done over the phone as well. At the appointment time, offices ask families to call from the parking lot and wait in the car until the exam room is ready. At the right time, families go right to the exam room without sitting in the waiting room. They can leave directly from the exam room at the end of the appointment.

Q: Does my child have to wear a mask when he’s around his grandparents?

A: This is a hard one because I know that Rhode Islanders love having family very close and near each other. But the best thing we can do when around our family is to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. That means staying at least 6 feet away from each other so we don’t risk getting each other sick. Kids under the age of 2 and people with respiratory problems may not be able to wear a mask.

Note: Immunizations, well child visits and telehealth visits are covered by Tufts Health RITogether.