Orange Park, FL – Pediatricians across the U.S. are seeing 20%-30% of the volume they would normally see this time of year, a steep drop in the number of children coming in for appointments right now, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Parents are understandably concerned about COVID-19 but pediatricians in our area want to make sure parents understand the risks to your child if vaccinations aren’t kept up to date and on time.

The AAP recommends that, even in these "stay-at-home" times, pediatricians still see patients who are under 2 years old for well visits in the office. It's during this period of time that children generally complete the initial set of recommended immunizations — for everything from measles, mumps and rubella, to rotavirus, polio and the pneumococcal bacteria that can cause serious infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

There is a big concern for an increase of vaccine-preventable diseases such as meningitis and measles to outbreak if parents continue avoiding routine visits for vaccinations. It is critical parents get their children vaccinated as close to on time as they can.

Many health care providers have already updated their office procedures in response to parents' worries about in-person doctor visits. Many of our area pediatricians have eliminated waiting rooms, patients wait in their cars until it’s their turn, they go directly to a clean room, all staff where masks, all equipment is cleaned after every patient, there are temperature checks for everyone and they schedule extra time between cases. In some cases, vaccinations can be done curbside from the car for ages 6 weeks to 2 years.

The hospital recommends calling ahead or check your pediatrician’s website for the latest services provided, hours, and options for you to keep your well child visits and help keep your little one healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, there were 1,282 individual cases of measles confirmed in 31 states — which broke the nation's 25-year-old record for most cases. Of those cases, most of which occurred among people who hadn't been vaccinated, 128 were hospitalized and 61 developed serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.