BRYAN, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has seemed to slow down visits to pediatric physicians. Doctors say many families have canceled their check-ups and are not getting their needed immunizations at their local pediatric clinic.
When the coronavirus hit the Brazos Valley, physicians at Baylor Scott and White Medical were strict about the number of patients visiting in their facilities. That lasted for several weeks.
Now, doctors are encouraging people to still make appointments for physicals and checkups.
“We’re trying to get those patients back into the clinics so we can take care of their needs, including preventive care like vaccines," said Dr. Lauren Steffen, a family medicine physician at Baylor Scott and White Medical.
However, the number of people visiting their doctors still remains low.
Dr. Steffen believes the fear of getting exposed to COVID-19 is the reason people aren’t coming back in. But whether you have various illnesses or not, Dr. Steffen says people need to come in for those annual check-ups, especially now with schools starting back up. Doctors are asking parents to bring their kids in to stay up to date with vaccinations.
“Because of the fears of COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge decline in vaccination rates and because of that we’re going to start losing our herd immunity," Steffen said.
Herd immunity is when enough people have gotten enough resistance to infections so transmission is slowed down resulting in fewer infection cases. It helps protect those who can’t get vaccinated because of medical reasons.
That’s why it's important to get people back into the clinics.
“So that we don’t start seeing an increase of vaccine-preventable diseases, because right now that’s something we definitely don’t want to have to worry about when we’re still trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Steffen said.
For those who are timid about entering a medical facility, Steffen said a majority of clinics across the country have safety protocols and precautions in place.
At the Baylor Scott and White clinic, there is only one entrance for people to enter through, and as soon as people enter, they must get their temperature taken. There are also staff members who are cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces around the clock.
"We’re really trying to keep the clinic as safe as possible for patients so we can ease their fear and they’ll come in and get the care that they need," Steffen said.
Baylor Scott and White Medical offers telemedicine and virtual video visits for anyone concerned with having or contracting COVID-19. It will keep those with the virus out of the building, reducing the risk of exposing others, while doctors are still able to check-in.