Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child or teen is sick?

Is it OK to call the pediatrician during COVID-19 even if I’m not sure my child is sick?

Yes! You should always feel free to call your pediatrician’s office, even during our current coronavirus pandemic. Your pediatrician cares about the health of your baby, child or teen and is happy to talk to you about anything from medicines and illnesses to injuries and behavior issues. This is why we entered medicine – and we want to hear from you! Now more than ever, it’s very important that families stay connected to their pediatrician and their medical home.
In the office

Even though families are staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are still important reasons why you may need to bring your child into the office, including:

  • Newborn visits after a baby is born.
  • To stay up-to-date on immunizations.
  • For hearing and vision screenings.
  • To monitor growth, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
  • To check labs such as for strep throat​ or anemia.
  • To check on developmental milestones.
  • To treat infections or injuries.
  • Adolescent health concerns such as menstrual care or depression​ screeing.

​​​Pediatricians are taking​ steps to make sure it’s as safe as possible for visi​ts that need to happen in person. Some offices have separated “sick” and “well” areas of their clinic or are having newborns come in early in the day, before any other patients. Calling ahead is important so your pediatrician can advise you on the best way to come in.​​

For other kinds of appointments, many pediatricians are now offering video visits. Call your pediatrician’s office to see if this is available for your child or teen.

What to do if your child or teen gets sick

​If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately.​

Sometimes it’s hard to tell how sick your child is. Luckily, a trip to the hospital is usually not needed for a simple cold or cough, mild diarrhea, constipation, temper tantrums, or sleep problems. Call your pediatrician for any concerns you may have about your child’s health.​
Emergencies

If you feel you need to call 911, trust your instincts and call. Otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to check in with your pediatrician first. Sometimes they can help over the phone or will help coordinate other kinds of care for your child without going to the hospital.

Most of all, do not avoid calling your pediatrician or worry that a trip to the clinic or hospital will put you or your child at higher risk for COVID-19. Doctor’s offices and emergency departments are still seeing and treating patients and are following all recommended steps to keep patients and families safe.

We are here for you

We know parents are really scared. But pediatricians are still here, ready to help you care for your child. If your child or teen ​is sick or injured, or struggling emotionally, pick up the phone and call your pediatrician. We are working hard to make sure we can care for your child, while still keeping everyone safe. ​


From American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020) by Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, a practicing pediatrician, author, and mom in Atlanta. Dr. Shu is co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights. A frequent guest on national and local television, radio, and web-based programs, she is serves as medical editor for HealthyChildren.org, is the Living Well health expert for CNN.com, contributes medical information to BabyCenter and WebMD.com, and serves on the Parents magazine advisory board. ​Last Updated: 5/1/2020. The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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