Well-Care Visits and Vaccinations During a Pandemic
By Michelle Doan
Local influenza activity has significantly increased in Orange County in recent weeks. As of January 24, one influenza-associated death and 22 ICU cases have been reported in persons under 65 years of age in Orange County this season. At the state level, influenza activity is widespread and is expected to continue for several more weeks. Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to slow the spread of the virus. Yet, it has also caused some children and adults to delay getting their recommended shots. It is very important that families continue to protect themselves by staying up to date on routine well-care visits and vaccinations. COVID-19 has many people feeling anxious and nervous about going in for doctor visits.
We encourage our community partners to spread the word to their constituents "Don't Wait - Vaccinate." Have them talk with their doctors about the extra steps they are taking to see patients safely before scheduling their routine office visits and vaccinations.
It is still very important for families to continue to stay healthy and protect themselves. When social distancing starts to ease up, infants and children who are not vaccinated could be at more risk for diseases like influenza, measles and whooping cough. Adults who are not vaccinated may now be at more risk for diseases like shingles, influenza and pneumonia.
Postponing routine well-care visits and shots puts the community at more risk for infection from deadly diseases that are preventable. People should contact their doctor and ask questions about needed exams, labs and vaccinations.
Hospitals, clinics and other health care settings across the state have taken extra care to make sure patients are safe during visits. There may be longer wait times for office visits since many people may need to catch up on their shots. Some offices have taken extra safety steps such as:
- Scheduling separate visit times for sick and for healthy patients
- Requiring patients to wear a mask to their visit
- Disinfecting areas in between patient visits
- Providing physical distancing in waiting rooms
- Asking patients to stay outside until they are called into their visit to avoid crowded waiting rooms
- Offering different locations for routine visits than for sick visits
Providers can find resources to promote vaccinations at the following links:
- California Immunization Coalition: eziz.org/assets/other/DontWait-TOOLKIT.pdf
- American Academy of Pediatrics www.aap-oc.org/