Health care experts say they seeing troubling trends as fewer children get regular checkups during the coronavirus pandemic. And those trends, they fear, could lead to fewer immunized children and chronic health conditions in kids that are not caught.
As more children go without primary wellness visits, indicators of chronic disease, important lab tests and immunizations — which are often required for kindergarten and day care enrollment — could be missed, said Dr. Margaret Hennessy, a physician at Ascension All Saints Hospital in Milwaukee.
Two indicators are especially concerning: an expected drop in the number of children being immunized on schedule and a decrease in the number of kids being tested for lead levels in the blood.
These are examples of the pandemic’s “unintended consequences” as fear of COVID-19 discourages people from seeking routine medical care, Hennessy said.
Immunization rates are expected to drop precipitously
Between the ages of birth and 3, it’s recommended that children receive immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTap); polio; measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); Hib meningitis, pneumonia and pericarditis (Hib); hepatitis B (HepB); chickenpox (Var); and pneumonia (PVC immunizations). Some of these require multiple shots over a set schedule.
But the pandemic changed things.