WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Pediatricians have noticed more children missing appointments as some parents avoid leaving the house. However, local pediatricians said a visit to the doctor’s office is essential and they fear Texomans could be dealing with much more than COVID-19 if children don’t get their immunizations.
Pediatrics is a preventative branch of medicine and local pediatricians are pushing to prevent illness that could bring more health devastation in the future.
Dr. Terry Johnson with Pediatric Associates and Dr. Cheryl Humphrey-Francois with the Community Healthcare Center are prescribing a warning of what missing appointments could look like.
“Preventative medicine is what pediatricians do, prevention works, immunizations work, well-child visits work,” Humphrey-Francois said.
Johnson said history shows that without that crucial series of shots infections and diseases like measles or meningitis could be on the horizon.
“When the USSR fell in the late 80s and early 90s and their entire medical system collapsed, immunization rates dropped and we actually saw the re-emergence of not just measles, but diphtheria which is something we’ve never seen in this country in 50 years,” Johnson said. “These are life threatening illnesses that have a much higher mortality rate than coronavirus.”
“Even one child who succumbs to a preventable infection is too much,” Humphrey-Francois said.
Johnson said time is of the essence, babies making it to their appointments is a must.
“They are born with their mothers’ immunity, so they actually have a good natural immunity initially to all these vaccine preventable diseases, but that immunity fades over the first two to four months,” Johnson said.
They understand the fear that looms with getting out and about. Both the CHC and Pediatric Associates have taken measures to make a safe environment with doctors ready to ease nerves.
“We spend a great deal of time on the phone talking with them,” Humphrey-Francois said. “We ask them to give us any of their concerns or their questions, and we take every opportunity to sit and talk and make them feel comfortable, to make them feel safe.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics said it’s reasonable to put off non-essential visits not associated with vaccinations.
“Routine school health visits or visits of like the 3-year-old, 2.5-year-old, 2-year-old visits where there are no vaccines associated with them,” Johnson said.
Skipping out on an appointment here and there may seem like no big deal, but these pediatricians fear the worst could be yet to come if little ones aren’t taking a trip to the doctor.
The CHC and Pediatric Associates are screening everyone before they enter the building, keeping waiting rooms thin and always wearing personal protective gear.
Those who are sick cannot go into the building and will be treated outside while many are asked to do paperwork in their vehicles.