One of the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit children particularly hard: Routine checkups were disrupted due to parents’ worry that their kids might be exposed to the virus at the doctor’s office.

While missed medical visits are problematic for any population, for some children they can carry lifelong consequences, notes Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer at Capital Blue Cross.

“Seeing the pediatrician or family physician is the perfect opportunity to ask general questions and raise concerns about your child’s general health, development, and behavior,” Dr. Chambers says. “Of course if a child has a chronic condition that requires monitoring and regular medication or other treatment, the danger of missed visits is magnified even further.”

Missed appointments can be most problematic for children in their early, most formative years, when wellness checks can ensure routine vaccinations are on track, screen for proper physical and cognitive development, and flag behavioral, social, speech, and learning concerns.

These check-ups are also critical contact points for pediatricians. The visits help ensure children’s general well-being – doctors look for signs of abuse or neglect, and screen for social determinants of health.

The fastest way to get back on track is to contact your child’s doctor and discuss any missed appointments, vaccine schedules, or medication issues. Capital Blue Cross takes steps to help ensure pediatric checkups and vaccinations stay on track by:

·       Working with medical providers who take part in certain quality programs to alert them to any missed pediatric wellness visits, as well as advise them of children who have missed specific vaccines.

·       Reaching out to parents and guardians during summer months with “scorecards” that let them know when their children are at risk of missing a wellness visit or vaccine.

·       Providing welcome letters to new parents, with a personalized schedule for wellness visits and vaccines.

·       Sending monthly emails to parents and guardians of children who take ADHD medication, encouraging them to schedule follow-up visits with the prescribing doctors to ensure the medication has been safe and effective. That information is also shared with the child’s primary care physician.

Dr. Chambers stresses that routine checkups are important for all children, regardless of their stage of development.

“They’re vital for vaccinations, for discussing upcoming health issues, and for anticipating and getting age-appropriate guidance for your child’s growth,” she says.