Syracuse, N.Y. — Whether your kids are back in the classroom this fall or online learning from home, now is the time to reconnect with your child’s pediatrician to catch up on annual physicals and immunizations you may have postponed because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Children ages two to 21 years old should have an annual physical to ensure they are growing and developing normally.
Most health plans must cover a set of preventive health services for children at no cost. This includes Marketplace and Medicaid coverage. (Note: These services are free only when delivered by a doctor or other provider in the plan’s network. https://www.healthcare.gov/preventive-care-children/)
“During a preventative visit or annual physical exam, your child’s growth will be tracked and monitored,” said Dr. Nicholas Massa, Pediatrician and Medical Director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “The pediatrician will also ensure that immunizations are up to date, including for whooping cough, rotavirus, measles, and the flu.”
Childhood immunizations protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. Children who aren’t current with their immunizations are at increased risk of catching diseases and spreading them to others.
Asthma is one of the most common long-term diseases among children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An annual physical provides an opportunity to review and update a child’s asthma action plan (or asthma management plan), which is a written plan developed in conjunction with the child’s doctor. The plan details the child’s daily treatment, such as what kind of medicines to take, when to take them, and when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room.
“A review of claims data shows an annual spike in the number of children’s asthma-related medical visits, asthma attacks and hospitalizations from late August through late September,” said Massa. He advises all adults who care for a child who has asthma to have a copy of the child’s asthma action plan, including teachers, caregivers, and even parents of their friends.
Annual physicals also provide an opportunity for your child’s pediatrician to look for signs of depression, lead exposure, or issues with hearing and vision.
Medical practices have made modifications to keep you and your child safe during your visit due to COVID-19. When you call you child’s pediatrician, you will be given updated protocols and instructions about how to proceed with scheduled appointments.
“With medical practices again welcoming patients for in-office visits, it is time to reconnect with your child’s pediatrician,” said Massa. ““While many parents schedule their well child visits during the summer months when the kids are on summer break, remember that obtaining clearance for an upcoming sport is only one of many important parts of a yearly preventive visit or annual physical exam. And it can be done anytime during the year.”