Memorial Hospital - September 28, 2020

With the disruption from COVID–19, it's understandable if your child's annual wellness exam was postponed. Or, you may not have gotten around to scheduling it at all. If not, it is highly recommended that you not skip it, particularly with a potential return to school and fall activities coming up. Aside from added safety precautions, such as wearing masks or limits on the amount of patients in an office at a given time, taking your child to their annual pediatric exam should be very similar to what you've previously experienced.

The importance of check–ups

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "well–child" visits—known commonly as "annual check–ups," "wellness exams" or "physicals"—provide growth and development tracking with insight into potential health concerns for your child. These visits are also crucial in keeping parents up–to–date on recommended vaccinations based on what your child has received to date and what may be coming due.

Unfortunately, according to a recent report shared by the CDC, a significant amount of children aren't receiving their annual exams, including approximately 20% in metropolitan areas and 28% in nonmetropolitan or rural areas. And with the COVID–19 pandemic, don't be surprised if those numbers have grown.

The consensus from healthcare professionals is that children who are not seen regularly carry a higher risk of incomplete vaccinations, and miss opportunities for crucial conversations with their parents or guardians alongside physicians about physical and mental health and safety. Children and caregivers who attend regular check–ups are more likely to better understand and embrace healthy decision–making.

Exam protocol for different age groups

Through age 21, annual pediatric exams ensure your child receives recommendations and any associated care tailored to their individual needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends these screenings and preventative measures:

Early childhood (1–4 years old):

  • Clinical examination history
  • Measurements – length, height, weight and blood pressure
  • Sensory screening – vision and hearing
  • Developmental/behavioral health screening – psychosocial/behavioral assessment
  • Physical examination
  • Preventative care – immunization
  • Proactive counseling

Middle childhood (5–10 years old):

  • Clinical examination history
  • Measurements – length, height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure
  • Sensory screening – vision and hearing
  • Developmental/behavioral health screening – developmental surveillance and psychosocial/behavioral assessment
  • Physical examination
  • Preventative care – immunization, anemia and tuberculosis
  • Proactive counseling

Adolescence (11–21 years old):

  • Clinical examination history
  • Measurements – length, height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure
  • Sensory screening – vision and hearing
  • Developmental/behavioral health screening – developmental surveillance, psychosocial/behavioral assessment, drug use assessment and depression screening
  • Physical examination
  • Preventative care – immunization, anemia, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections
  • Proactive counseling

Proceed with confidence – schedule your exam and stay current

If you're concerned about safety because of COVID–19, you can be completely confident that medical offices and clinics are taking extra precautions to keep your child safe, such as:

  • Staggering well–child visits and sick visits to avoid the intersection of patients.
  • Relocating well–child visits and sick visits.
  • Requesting patients to stay outside until called into the office to reduce crowded waiting rooms.

Please consult with your pediatrician to find out what additional measures they're taking to keep your family safe.

And keep in mind, wellness exams are usually covered fully as a preventive measure under most health insurance plans. If applicable, you may also want to ask your pediatrician if your child is eligible for the Vaccines for Children program, a program that can eliminate costs for vaccines.

The children in your life rely on you to do the right thing on their behalf. Cherish and protect the health of your little and not–so–little loved ones by following through on their scheduled appointment every year.


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