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Pediatricians say parents forgo immunizations, doctor visits during the pandemic

Washington University pediatrician Dr. John Cole says he is absolutely hearing from parents that they are concerned about coming to the doctors' office

ST. LOUIS — Courtney Sudkamp balances her young son, Miles, on her lap as she talks about being a new mom and all the things she's learning.

"There's so much going on, and I am not gonna catch everything because I don't know what to look for so I need somebody to tell me that he's doing OK," she said of their recent doctor visits.

Miles -- her first child with husband Luke -- is just one day shy of hitting 5-month-old, and already he's been to the doctor's office about a half-dozen times. It was on one of those visits that the Sudkamps realized there was a minor issue: Miles favors one side when he sleeps, causing a little flattening on the side of his head.

"I would not have caught that on my own if we hadn't gone into the doctor, so I think it's worth going in," Sudkamp said.

The Missouri Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics warned this week: "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our state has reported a concerning drop in vaccination rates."

Read the full release below

Credit: MOAAP

But doctors say all sorts of visits are down.

"Absolutely," Dr. John Cole, a Washington University pediatrician said of some parents' reluctance to come to the office. 

Dr. Cole said parents are staying away over concerns over the coronavirus, which might be leading to other illnesses being missed.

"Obviously everything has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that so many of these illnesses can share similar symptoms can make it very confusing for families and even physicians to figure out exactly what is affecting the child," Dr. Cole said.

Medical offices across the country have strengthened their health and safety procedures, and Dr. Cole warned that parents worried about the coronavirus might also be unnecessarily quarantining their families.

"The isolation and quarantine rules for COVID-19 are pretty stringent and a lot different than what we see for typical summer illnesses," he said. "We want to make sure before we isolate or quarantine somebody away for a significant period of time that we know that we are doing the right thing."

As for the Sudkamps, they say they're on track with their appointments, coming in soon for a follow-up.

"The sooner you catch it the better," Sudkamp said.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.

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