COVID-19 fears significantly reduced child doctor visits, vaccinations statewide

Posted at 9:15 PM, Jun 23, 2020

CLEVELAND — Ohio pediatricians and infectious disease specialists are reporting a significant and concerning drop-in child doctor visits, well-child visits and child vaccinations due to worries over COVID-19.

During a June 23 video news conference, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine hosted Dr. Sara Bode, a primary care pediatrician and the Medical Director of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Care Connection School-Based Health and Mobile Clinics.

Bode reported a 45% decrease in pediatric well-child visits and a significant drop in child vaccinations in the Greater Columbus area in a two month period.

“We’ve seen a very sharp decline since March in the number of kids that have come in for vaccinations across the state,” Bode said.

“In Franklin County, we’ve had a drop of over 8,000 vaccines per month over the months of March and April."

“When we think about the measles vaccine, we typically vaccinate over 1,000 children a month with that particular vaccine, and in the month of April, as an example, that number was 32.”

“Why does this concern us, vaccines are critical to prevent disease and outbreaks.”

Dr. Amy Edwards, Infectious Disease Specialist with Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, told News 5 Northeast Ohio has seen a 28% decline in well-child visit in the past month.

“It’s a significant drop in well-child visits, we don’t have data on how many kids are not being in vaccinated as a result of that,” Edwards said.

“Too many children are not getting vaccinated for anything from tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, to polio to pneumonia shots, to meningitis shots."

“Measles is still circulating in the United States, we’re not in the middle of an outbreak like last year, thank goodness, but what we don’t want is to layer a measles outbreak on top of a COVID pandemic."

Edwards urged parents to contact their pediatricians with any COVID-19 concerns they may have as soon as possible, and not be immobilized by fear.

She said medical offices are taking the proper safety precautions, and that well-child visits are not just for vaccinations.

“We check development, we check for social problems, we check for psychological problems, we check for learning problems,” Edwards said.

“With the steps that we’re taking in the Rainbow system, you’re safer with us than you are at the grocery store.”