Trying to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 is essential in the “new normal.” In addition to promoting social distancing, proper handwashing, and the use of face masks and shields, health experts are reminding the public to take precautions against other seasonal illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, and dengue. Getting vaccinations and pediatric checkups during the COVID-19 pandemic is important to prevent diseases from other viruses. This is especially true for children, who are more susceptible to infections.
Is it safe to bring my child for a checkup?
The quick answer: Yes, pediatric checkups and vaccinations should still be done during COVID-19.
Currently, there is an increased number of patients in many hospitals due to COVID-19 and seasonal illnesses such as dengue and flu. Before heading to the hospital, there are certain steps and precautions that parents should take before bringing their child to the doctor.
How do I schedule vaccinations and pediatric checkups during COVID-19?
Step 1: Contact your health care facility
Clinics and hospitals nowadays have a strict appointments-only policy. Even if you have gone to a particular clinic for years, you should still call the office ahead of time to secure an appointment and fulfill any other requirements, such as testing or clearances.
If you have direct communication with your child’s pediatrician, it is also possible to contact them via phone, email, or through other channels.
Step 2: Follow the protocol
After setting up a schedule for pediatric checkups or vaccinations during COVID-19, take note of the facility’s requirements. This may differ depending on the reason for the appointment, but can include requests for diagnostics like CBC, x-ray, and the COVID swab test.
Many hospitals and clinics in Metro Manila require patients to undergo COVID-19 testing prior to entering the facility. This acts as a safety precaution for the health care workers, office frontliners, and other patients. The cost of the PCR swab testing is shouldered by the patient, unless it is covered by insurance, HMO, or their employer.
Step 3: Get the necessary clearances
Because of the travel restrictions and quarantine statuses of different areas of the country, people under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 are not allowed to be outside of their homes unless they have the necessary clearances or have an emergency. Meanwhile, quarantine passes may be required in one area while not being required in another.
This is another reason why it is important to contact your health care provider ahead of time to know what their requirements are, especially if you plan to seek consultation in a different city. If you are required to get a clearance for your pediatric checkups or vaccinations during COVID-19, you can contact your barangay or city hall for more information.
Step 4: Prepare for the visit
If you and your child test negative for COVID-19 and have already completed the other necessary paperwork, all there is left to do is wait for your appointment. You can contact your health facility again once you have completed the requirements and to re-confirm your schedule.
Before leaving the house, it would be wise to prepare a bag with essentials such as extra face masks, hand sanitizer, bottled water, and a small snack. Also, don’t forget to wear a face mask and shield before leaving your home.
Be on time for your appointment, but not more than 30 minutes early. Avoid staying in the lobby or waiting area longer than you need to to lessen your risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses.
Step 5: After the visit
After your child has finished their checkup, communicate with his or her pediatrician for any further instructions. If there is a need for follow-ups or getting more vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, schedule it before you leave the clinic. If your child was prescribed medications, purchase them at a pharmacy before you get home.
Properly dispose of your used face masks before you enter your house. Thoroughly cleanse your body and change your clothes once you enter the house.
Which vaccines should my child receive?
The vaccines your child should receive will depend on their age. The following vaccines are included in the Philippine National Immunization Program (NIP):
|Vaccine||Disease||Age of First Dose|
|BCG||Tuberculosis (TB)||At birth|
|Monovalent Hep B||Hepatitis B||At birth|
|Pentavalent vaccine (DTwP, Hib, HepB)||Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, influenza, hepatitis B||6 weeks|
|Bivalent OPV||Polio||6 weeks|
|MMR, MR||Measles, mumps, and rubella||9 months
(6 months if there is an outbreak)
|Td/Tdap||Tetanus||7 – 18 years|
|HPV||Human papillomavirus||9 – 18 years|
|JE||Japanese encephalitis||9 months – 18 years|
Other vaccines in the NIP are the rotavirus vaccine (RV), influenza vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and hepatitis A vaccine. A yearly flu shot is also recommended, especially during this time with COVID-19. It is important to note that while none of these vaccines can prevent COVID-19, the disease is more severe in patients with other infections and underlying diseases. Thus, it is prudent to be fully vaccinated.
Where can I get my child’s vaccinations during COVID-19?
Rural health units and government hospitals offer accessible and affordable basic health care and immunizations. The mandatory basic immunizations are given free for children up to 5 years old. Occasionally, you may find that these facilities provide free vaccinations for adults through medical missions and health drives as well.
You can also bring your child to a private medical clinic or hospital, as well as an out-patient services clinic, for vaccinations during COVID-19.
What are the benefits of getting vaccinations during COVID-19?
The major reason for getting vaccinations during COVID-19 is to protect your child from preventable childhood diseases. This in turn will improve their immunity and development, and help the community as a whole.
As mentioned previously, there are several steps you need to take to visit a doctor for consultation. Emergency rooms are often full and should be reserved for patients with urgent and life-threatening concerns.
As a general rule, always remember that prevention is better than a cure! The cost of a vaccine may seem expensive for one day, but it can save your child from a compromised immune system, latent infections, and avoidable health complications.
Learn more about Child Heath, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.