KAPOLEI, Hawaii, July 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Routine well-child visits and vaccinations have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic as parents avoid medical services to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus. While 'Ohana Health Plan recognizes the health concerns of the Hawaii community, 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. Specifically, among children aged five months, vaccination rates have declined from approximately two-thirds (66.3%) of children from 2016 to 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 the age of 18.
"With lower than normal vaccination coverage among all age groups, children may be at higher risk for vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and more," said Sherie Smalley, M.D., chief medical officer, 'Ohana Health Plan. "Even during these uncertain times, it's important that we continue to encourage everyone to protect themselves, including getting immunizations to protect our keiki from preventable health complications."
During this time, 'Ohana Health Plan members can conveniently schedule virtual appointments with their primary care physician via telehealth services or attend in-person visits. Using telehealth services, a physician will be able to deliver healthcare services, including well-child care exams. In-person visits are still an option too, as hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and health clinics across Hawaii 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.
"At Waikiki Health we continue to make our clinics the safest place we can to assure the health of our staff and patients," said Phyllis Dendle, chief executive officer of Waikiki Health. "We encourage parents to assure the health and safety of their keiki by getting regular checkups and scheduled immunizations. We are eager to be your family's partner in health."
To help ease the uncertainty of clinic visits, 'Ohana Health Plan encourages parents to take steps that can further help to protect themselves and their 'ohana during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are a few safety steps that can help the entire family prepare for in-person visits:
- Before scheduling an 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 or nose 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.
- Use touchless payment options such as a mobile payment system. If that is not an option, use credit cards, if possible.
'Ohana Health Plan 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 at www.wellcare.com/Hawaii/Find-a-Provider#/Search or call their 'Ohana Health Plan representative at 1-888-846-4262 (TTY 711). For more information about 'Ohana Health Plan services and benefits, please visit www.wellcare.com/hawaii.
About 'Ohana Health Plan
'Ohana Health Plan provides government-sponsored managed care services to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (WellCare) across the state. 'Ohana Health Plan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise committed to helping people live healthier lives. For more information, please visit www.wellcare.com/hawaii.
SOURCE 'Ohana Health Plan