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Doctors stress importance of routine physicals, vaccines to take care of children’s physical and emotional health

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Whether it's a routine physical or time for a certain immunization, doctors say COVID-19 shouldn't force families to neglect their child's care.

"By no means do we want them to miss any immunizations, even if they're keeping their kid at home," says Dr. Joseph Garry who leads UIC College of Medicine's Family and Community Medicine. "Because immunizations are really the center point of public health.

Dr. Garry says doctor visits are critical to a child's healthcare and provide a platform for important family discussions.

"Discuss who is in the family, who is at a higher risk, and how they can protect those individuals. Particularly if they're having their student return to school."

It's not just physical health doctors will be paying attention to at these visits, but the mental and emotional health of children as well. The stress of understanding and coping with COVID-19 will now come on top of the traditional back to school anxiety many students deal with every year.

"Frequently they may exhibit these symptoms through bodily pain, especially belly pain," says SwedishAmerican Psychiatrist Dr. Oday Alsarraf. "That's a big one children like to use whether it's subconscious or conscious. It's a red flag we want to look out for."

In addition, Dr. Alsarraf says children may have difficulty falling asleep, refuse to do things that normally they enjoy, throw tantrums, or even become quiet and refuse to speak. So what can parents do?

"So we have to increase communication," says Dr. Alsarraf. "It can be really difficult with children some times. Practice makes perfect. Try talking to children from different angles and perspectives."

In addition to constant communication, he recommends setting the right example.

"For parents, the best thing they can do for their children during this time period is exhibit confidence whether you agree or disagree with the policies and procedures."

Dr. Alsarraf also recommends parents work to set up a routine with their children to help ease their anxiety and give them structure. In addition, if possible he recommends visiting school before it's back in session. These visits can help show the child where drop off and pick up will take place and help calm some fears.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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