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You can take your kids to the doctor. What to know before you go.

Coronavirus has changed things, but checkups and shots are still crucial.

The coronavirus pandemic seemed to put all of life on hold, including any medical visits that weren’t urgent.

That has changed.

Your kids can, and in fact should, see the doctor — for well-child visits, immunizations and any concerns you might have.

But notice how we said “see” (not “go to”) the doctor? The coronavirus pandemic inspired a dramatic uptick in the use of virtual medicine, and that continues.

Depending on what sort of care your child is due for, it may be in the form of either an in-person visit or a virtual visit.

Dr. Caryn Avery, a pediatric hospitalist with Kaiser Permanente, talked to Seattle’s Child about the importance of getting care (particularly vaccinations, as we have previously reported), how to go about it and what will be different.

Where to start?

One of the first things to know is that if you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, it’s OK to go to the emergency room or urgent-care clinic. (It always has been OK, in fact.)

For other situations, reach out to your doctor’s office. Depending on your child’s needs and your provider’s preference, a plan will be made.

“We are doing more face-to-face visits,” Avery said. “But for a lot of things, a virtual visit is a great way to start.”

And let’s face it, with their gadget-heavy lives and recent months of remote learning, our kids likely are even more comfortable than we are with seeing their doctor via phone or laptop.

Here’s what you’ll experience if you go in person:

Providers and clinic staff will be wearing masks — and you and your child should as well. Unless the child is under 2 (mask use is not recommended for kids under 2), in which case providers may use more protective equipment.

As Avery pointed out, this is a great way to get kids used to wearing masks and seeing others doing so.

A child going to the doctor should be accompanied by just one parent, and no siblings, if at all possible. “We’re trying to limit the number of people in our facilities,” Avery explained.

You’ll spend as little time as possible in the waiting room — and there won’t be any entertainment while you are there.

Behind the scenes, medical staffs are doing more cleaning and taking lots of precautions. “We’re really passionate that we want families to feel safe,” Avery said.

They’re also passionate that kids need to keep current on their vaccinations.

“Nationwide there’s been a significant decrease in immunizations,” she said. “I would strongly urge parents to try to reach out and get kids in.”

Avery offered the reassurance that, even when a kid’s shots have gotten off schedule, it is possible to catch up.

Find the CDC’s immunization schedule here.


More from Kaiser Permanente:

Supporting young kids during the time of coronavirus

Tips for helping older kids, teens during coronavirus

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.