August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which highlights the importance of vaccination for all ages. Since March, efforts to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home orders, have led to decreased use of routine medical services, including staying up to date with immunizations and annual physicals.

“Today, parents may be contemplating the safety of scheduling an annual physical for their children. While it is important for everyone to exercise caution during the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is also paramount to protect children from other infectious diseases through vaccination,” said Dr. Andria Chizner, pediatrician at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens.

Dr. Chizner recommends the following:

  1. Don’t delay vaccinations. Childhood vaccinations are part of essential health care services. According to the CDC, routine vaccines prevent illness, lasting health problems, and even death in babies and children. There are 16 vaccines that protect babies and children from illnesses like mumps, pertussis, and the flu.
  2. Schedule routine checkups for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has emphasized that routine checkups for children of all ages is essential; the pediatrician must update immunizations, conduct a physical exam to assess overall health and well-being, and perform routine screenings for development, hearing, vision, and oral health.
  3. Find out new safety measures. Call your pediatrician to determine all precautions they are currently taking, such as COVID-19 screenings for patients. Many offices are requiring all patients over the age of two to wear masks and are limiting the number of patients in the office to reduce crowding.
  4. Diminish shot anxiety. It is no secret that many children are scared of getting vaccination shots. Try to create a distraction during shots by singing a song, squeezing your child’s hand or telling a funny story.
  5. Be honest and calm. Take a few minutes to explain to your child what to expect during a shot. Use words like “pressure” or “poke” rather than “pain” or “shot.” Explain that they may feel a little pinch, but it will be very quick. Your calm voice will reassure your child.