Routine well-child care and vaccinations have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as parents avoid medical services to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus. While Arizona Complete Health recognizes the health concerns of Arizonans across the state, it encourages parents to continue to schedule checkup appointments and get early vaccinations for young children to protect against preventable diseases.
The stay-at-home orders to control the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused individuals to question the safety of health clinics and the significance of childhood checkups. Among children aged five months, vaccination rates have declined from approximately two-thirds (66.3%) of children during 2016-2019 to fewer than half (49.7%) in May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports similar trends among older children as well, with non-influenza vaccination rates decreasing by 21.5% for children under 18 years old.
“With lower than normal vaccination coverage among all age groups, children may be at higher risk for vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and more,” said Scott Van Valkenburg, MD, Arizona Complete Health Chief Medical Officer. “Even during these uncertain times, it’s important that we continue to encourage everyone to protect themselves, including getting immunizations to protect children from preventable health complications.”
Arizona Complete Health members can conveniently schedule a virtual appointment with their primary care physicians via telehealth services. Using telehealth services, a physician will be able to deliver healthcare services such as well-child care exams.
In-person visits are still an option, as hospitals and health clinics across Arizona have been regularly updating safety procedures to help avoid coronavirus transmission. Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers have continued to support communities with their health needs using personal protective equipment to safeguard themselves and patients, so parents can feel comfortable in scheduling necessary doctor appointments for their children.
“Now is not the time to distance from your doctor,” said Pedro Cons, CEO of Adelante Healthcare. “We are working hard to reach out to families. We want to make sure our children are getting their well checks and are up-to-date on immunizations. With clinics across the valley, we have taken the every step to ensuring the health and safety of all of our patients so they can feel comfortable coming for their in-person checkups.”
To help ease the uncertainty of clinic visits, Arizona Complete Health encourages parents to take steps that can further help to protect themselves and their family during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few safety steps that can help the entire family prepare for in-person visits:
- Before scheduling a doctor appointment, call the clinic or check its website to find out what is being done to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Before the day of the doctor visit, parents may receive a call from the clinic asking about any symptoms of COVID-19 across the family.
- Be sure to follow standard precautions during the doctor visit: wear a face mask, wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, and cover mouth with tissue while coughing or sneezing.
- Practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others (this may be indicated by markings on the floor).
- Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator surfaces, and touchpads. Be mindful of the surfaces young children touch and are in contact with.
- Use touchless payment options such as a mobile payment system. If that is not an option, use credit cards if possible.
Arizona Complete Health can help members connect with their primary care physician, either through telehealth services or in-person visits. Members can use the Find a Provider tool or call their Arizona Complete Health representative at 1-888-788-4408. For more information about Arizona Complete Health services and benefits, please visit www.AZCompleteHealth.com.
About Arizona Complete Health
Arizona Complete Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, provides and administers health benefits through individual, Medicaid, Medicare and dual eligible programs. Formerly known as Health Net of Arizona and Cenpatico Integrated Care, Arizona Complete Health offers Medicare Advantage coverage through its Allwell program and Marketplace coverage through Ambetter. For more information on Arizona Complete Health, please visit the company’s website at www.azcompletehealth.com.