Hawaii has done a great job “flattening the curve” on coronavirus, and things are starting to open back up. Healthcare providers are reopening, and that means it’s time to get up to date on vaccinations, screenings, and other medical procedures.
With so much attention focused on coronavirus, many people have postponed routine healthcare appointments. In some cases, people stayed away from the doctor because they were worried about catching COVID-19. While that’s understandable, remember that avoiding medical care also comes with some risks. And even as we wait for a coronavirus vaccine, we can’t forget that there are other dangerous, communicable diseases for which vaccines are already available, like influenza, measles, mumps, and hepatitis.
It’s especially important that we take care of our keiki. According to the CDC, there’s been a drop in childhood vaccinations1 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call your pediatrician and find out if your child needs to get caught up on any immunizations, or if they’re overdue for a well-child visit. While many parents cancelled routine appointments because they were worried about coronavirus risk, skipping vaccinations can put children at risk of other diseases. And it’s important that kids get their regular check-ups to make sure they’re healthy and that their development is on track. Don’t forget that vaccinations and a physical may be required for keiki who are returning or entering school as well.
Adults need to keep up with doctor appointments too. Routine cancer screenings have plunged2 by as much as 94% during the pandemic. That’s a concern, because it means many dangerous cancers could be growing undetected, making them harder to treat later. Screening can also identify health problems like heart disease and diabetes early, when they can still be prevented or slowed down. Call your primary care physician to get caught up with routine preventative care, and check in with your cardiologist, nephrologist, OBGYN, and other specialists who are part of your care team. Remember that the longer you wait, the more serious a health problem can become.
Finally, don’t forget to get your flu shot starting in August and September. By getting vaccinated you can help protect yourself and your loved ones during flu season, and you’ll also be doing your part to make sure our healthcare resources remain available for the people who need them most during the pandemic.
The bottom line is that you should feel confident getting the health care you need. Thanks to our community’s hard work and sacrifices, Hawaii’s coronavirus infection rates are remaining low. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are taking extra precautions to prevent infection and keep you safe. And don’t forget that telehealth is a good option for many appointments, especially for people at higher risk.
We all know that coronavirus is still a concern. But cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems don’t stop during a pandemic. By keeping up with screenings and vaccinations, and getting the care you need, you can make sure that you and your family stay healthy and happy in the months ahead.
2. Rebecca Robbins, et al. “Routine Cancer Screenings Have Plummeted during the Pandemic.” STAT, 4 May 2020, www.statnews.com/2020/05/04/cancer-screenings-drop-coronavirus-pandemic-epic/.