Well Child Visits are Safe—and Important!
Many parents stopped taking their kids to their health care provider when the pandemic hit. That means that many kids did not go to their scheduled well child visit with their provider.
Below, Elizabeth Burke Bryant, J.D., executive director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, answers questions and talks about facts parents need to know during the pandemic.
Q: Since the pandemic started, the number of kids who got childhood vaccines dropped. What happened?
A: Immunizations were down about 40 percent. We knew less about the virus in the early days. And parents worried that they or their children might get COVID-19 if they went to their provider. Kids not visiting their health care providers was and is a major concern. We know how important a full set of on-time immunizations is to kid’s health and well-being. The good news is that we’re doing better now. But we have to keep the progress going.
Q: What changed?
A: Pediatric leaders in the state worked together to address the issue. The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics created content to help families stay healthy. The group made a public service video to help get the word out. The providers in the video talked about how important it is for kids to see their provider. They also spoke about all they do to keep families safe in the office. The group also added the section, family health during COVID RI, to their website. It has tips about learning, parenting, being a teen, mental health and wellness during COVID.
As a result of these efforts, the number of kids getting shots is much higher. By this past fall, immunization rates caught up to what they were in fall 2019. This is great news but we have to keep getting the word out.
Q: What about parents who are still concerned about taking their kids to their providers?
A: We know parents are doing the best job they can do to keep themselves, their children and their families safe. We want parents to know that it’s very important to bring kids to the well child visits that health experts recommend at certain ages. During these visits, providers make sure kids get their vaccines on time. Providers also check kids’ physical and emotional health and well-being to make sure kids are on track. If kids miss these visits, they can get illnesses, such as measles and mumps, that could have been prevented with a shot. Going to well child visits is important for every child’s growth and development. Not attending one could have long-term, harmful effects.
Q: Are vaccines are required in Rhode Island?
A: Yes. Parents must show proof that their kids got certain childhood vaccines before they go to:
- Licensed childcare facilities (centers and family childcare homes)
- Grades 7, 8, 9 and 12
Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, economic well-being, safety and education of RI children. It also helps promote equity for all kids. Every year, it tracks childhood immunizations and 17 other key factors that affect kids’ health. See their latest fact book.