Families' fear of COVID-19 leads to decreased pediatric medical care locally

pediatric health care 0514
Posted at 7:25 PM, May 14, 2020

There's been an alarming drop in the number of children getting medical care and vaccinations recently.

Driscoll Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lee Budin told KRIS 6 News that childhood vaccinations have dropped about 40 percent locally and nationally since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Budin, also a pediatrician, said many parents are concerned about taking their children to hospitals and doctor's offices and coming home with the novel coronavirus. But he mentioned what parents should be worried about is the risk in delaying vaccinations.

"Most of us have lived in a time where we've seen very limited measles, mumps, rubella, and diphtheria,” said Budin. “We're worried about those coming back… and Covid-19 isn’t going to look so bad because measles is orders of magnitude more contagious than COVID-19.”

Budin said another concern is while they are seeing fewer patients, the patients who are coming in are extremely sick. Instead of treating the illness early, the child is held in pain and discomfort.

"The kids who are sick are coming to the emergency room much later than what's ideal,” said Budin. “All of our patients have been sicker across-the-board than what we saw in the past and there’s a risk associated with that.”

Doctors say delaying routine medical care and vaccinations can be dangerous for children and sometimes even life threatening, which is why they’re letting parents know, do not be fearful to pay a visit to your child’s pediatrician.

"In hospitals across the nation, we've seen cases where kids have gotten to the hospital too late and had very horrible outcomes, including deaths because the families were afraid of coming to the hospitals,” said Budin.

Budin did mention that parents shouldn't worry about taking their children to the doctor's office or hospital because they've limited the number of hospital visitors while increasing safety measures, like wearing masks and screening everyone who goes in.

“All the hospitals across the nation are doing every measure possible to make things as safe as possible, so that people should feel comfortable coming to the hospital, but to only come when needed, but not wait too late,” said Budin.