Routine Child Care in the COVID-19 Context

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Now more than ever it is important for your patients to look after their health and receive care from you as their healthcare provider. It’s essential that patients continue to seek out care that they need.

This tool has been developed to support primary care providers in navigating and providing patient care in a world where COVID-19 is the ‘new normal’, with considerations and recommendations on what’s ‘new’ and what’s ‘changed’ in the delivery of routine care for paediatric patients. While how care is delivered has changed, efforts should be made to ensure that the quality has not. As always, when treating your patients, continue to use your clinical judgement and follow standards of care, best practices, evidence and guidelines.

Key takeaway

Routine childhood immunizations should be kept up to date through in-person visits, since delay or omission could put children as risk for common and serious childhood infections (CPS, April 30, 2020). As such, children who have missed recommended well-child visits and/or vaccinations should be identified and contacted to schedule an appointment (American Academy of Pediatrics, June 1, 2021).  

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What’s new, what’s changed

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Cloth face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 years of age, and face shields for newborns and infants are not recommended because of the risk of accidental suffocation or strangulation (CDC, May 16, 2021).

Caution must be taken when hand sanitizers are within reach of young children, and when being used by or around children, due to risk of accidental contact with the eyes and mouth. When using hand sanitizer on yourself or others, apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands and rub hands together until completely dry (CPS, April 3, 2020).

Well-child visits and immunizations

  • See Wave 2: Flu vaccination and flu vaccination clinics for information on providing flu vaccinations during the 2020-2021 season.
  • Continue offering routine well-child visits and immunizations, switching to virtual/telephone visits, as appropriate.
  • Grade 7 school vaccination clinics were cancelled this spring due to school closures. While most public health units are planning catch-up clinics, individuals may contact their family physician for missed doses of Hepatitis B, Meningococcal and HPV vaccinations (MOH, August 25, 2020).

Putting it into practice

  • Screening for travel risk and symptoms should take place before in-person visit, and symptomatic caregivers should be discouraged from accompanying children to the office, clinic, or other healthcare setting (CPS, March 25, 2020). See the Primary Care Operations in the COVID-19 Context resource for details on delivering patient care remotely and in person.
  • If well-child visits are converted to virtual/telephone appointments, questionnaires such as the Rourke Baby Record and Nipissing District Developmental Screen (18-months) can be emailed to parents prior to the appointment.
  • In some jurisdictions where public health capacity has been severely limited by the pandemic, delaying booster doses while providing parents with catch-up plans before re-opening schools and child care settings may be reasonable (CPS, April 29, 2020).
Proposed schedule for well-child visits
Newborn (0-2 weeks) visit

In-person for weight/jaundice/feeding issues

1 month visit

Virtual/Telephone (can be converted to in-person if concerns)

  • Ask parents to check baby’s weight at home if possible [(parent’s weight with baby) – (parent’s weight without baby) = rough estimate of baby’s weight].
  • Can also be reassured by parents’ subjective report of weight gain/outgrowing diaper size and sleepers.
2, 4, 6 months visits

In-person for vaccines

  • Pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza b, polio, pneumococcal and rotavirus
9 month visit


12, 15 months visits

In-person for vaccines

  • Meningococcal, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella
18 months visit

In-person for developmental assessment and vaccines (could consider virtual/telephone)

  • Pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza b, polio
  • Virtual/telephone visit would be a surrogate for an in-person developmental assessment. Developmental questionnaires can be sent to parents prior to the appointment.
4-6 year visits

Consider postponing