Last year, as parents tried their best to avoid doctor’s offices and hospitals during the pandemic, many children missed appointments for their vaccines and annual checkups, according to recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mary DeGuardi, MD, pediatrician at UHS, stressed the importance of vaccination for children and adolescents in the UHS community, especially for COVID-19. “Vaccination is the only way that we can get ourselves out of this pandemic,” she explains.
Joining the Team
To help meet the needs of the pediatric community at UHS, two new pediatric providers have been added to the team: Sreya Singh, MD, and Victoria R. Nakimbugwe, MD. Mary DeGuardi, MD, pediatrician at UHS, explains that not only do these new doctors come to the UHS Pediatrics team with a strong background in pediatric medicine, but their addition also improves the access to pediatric care for the UHS community.
“We want to make sure our patients who are due for vaccines and due for annual physical exams are able to do it in a timely manner without having to wait too long,” says Dr. DeGuardi. “Also, for new babies that are born into our communities, they have the ability to establish relationships with a new provider that can hopefully follow them from infancy into their young-adult lives.”
If your child is planning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and they are due for other vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus or meningitis vaccine, there is no need to wait between those vaccinations. Just be sure that wherever you choose to schedule your child’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Pfizer series of shots is offered. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one currently approved by the CDC for children age 12 and up.
“As we open up and kids go back to school, go to summer camp and socialize more with their friends, if children are not adequately vaccinated, we risk the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Dr. DeGuardi. “We have to remember it’s not just about the individual who’s getting the vaccine against COVID-19, it’s about their friends, family and people they may be in contact with.”
Dr. DeGuardi and the pediatric team at UHS also encourage parents to schedule their children’s influenza vaccine as fall approaches, in preparation for what could be a particularly bad flu season.
“We didn’t see much flu this past year, or other infectious diseases, because of the mask wearing and social distancing,” says Dr. DeGuardi. “Once those barriers are taken down, we can anticipate that people are going to start to get sick. We’re actually very concerned about having a highly active flu season.”
She adds that after having minimal exposure to the flu in the last year, children are more vulnerable to more serious infection.
WELCOME NEW PATIENTS
UHS pediatricians are currently welcoming new patients. To find a pediatrician near you, visit nyuhs.org.