Please see the prior COVID-19 office updates that had been shared previously on the website (posted in March and October of 2020) as most all of those policies are still in place, including:
- masks covering mouth and nose to be worn by parents and patients over 2-years-old
- elimination of waiting room exposure (call from parking lot on arrival to be taken directly to exam room)
- reduced contact exposures by only having one parent present and not bringing additional children not scheduled for an appointment (let us know of any extenuating circumstances)
- screening upon appointment scheduling/confirmation regarding COVID symptoms and/or exposures
One major relatively new item to share is that we do now have the rapid COVID antigen test available at both offices. We have been rolling out testing over the past couple of months and now have a fairly efficient system of doing “curbside” visits in which one of the doctors will meet you in the parking lot at your car, do a brief/limited exam, and obtain the nasal swab. Results take 15 minutes. The rapid test is a very helpful tool in providing fast (and generally fairly accurate) results, but does have important limitations of decreased sensitivity compared to the more accurate molecular PCR test. This means that it is helpful as a test to “rule in” COVID (in other words, a positive result can be trusted to indicate infection is present) but not quite as good as a “rule out” test since there is still a relatively high false negative rate (so continued quarantining and/or obtaining PCR testing may still be advised depending on the scenario). In general, we would recommend waiting at least a few days beyond development of symptoms of concern to consider testing (with supportive care in the interim) in order to increase testing yield AND/OR a minimum of 5 days beyond contact with a known COVID case for asymptomatic post-exposure testing. Please contact the office with any questions about this and/or if you feel your child would be a candidate to schedule a rapid test visit.
The other big development with regard to COVID is of course the vaccine. All six of our pediatricians are fully vaccinated as of early 2021. We would certainly recommend that all of our patients and their family members strongly consider obtaining the vaccine when able. Currently, one of the available vaccines (Pfizer) is approved for ages 16+ and the other two (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are approved for ages 18+. Therefore, the bulk of our pediatric patients will not yet meet the age requirements at this time but we do recommend it for our older teen and young adult/college patients when they become qualified. Pediatric studies in individuals as young as 6 months old are currently in process so we will provide updates in that regard when appropriate. We do not have the vaccine available at the office presently; that may or may not change if/when pediatric approval occurs.
Also regarding the COVID vaccine, we have received many inquiries from mothers of our breastfed patients regarding whether they should receive the vaccine when nursing. This is a difficult question to answer definitively as data regarding the vaccine and lactation are unavailable since breastfeeding women had been excluded from the initial clinical trials. However, the vaccine components and the science involved in how they work are felt to be of little to no risk for a child who is breastfed and may actually confer benefits related to antibody transfer. As such, the vaccine has been endorsed for nursing mothers by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). Similar questions exist regarding the vaccine during pregnancy; again, it is generally recommended to proceed but in this scenario it would definitely be best to check in with your obstetrician.