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how to avoid getting sick at the doctor's office or pediatrician's office

How to Avoid Getting Sick at the Pediatrician’s Office

I want to start off by stressing that if your child has a fever or is in pain, it is absolutely necessary to have him or her evaluated by their pediatrician. However, it is important to understand that the pediatrician’s office is one of the most dangerous places when it comes to exposure to viruses and bacteria. You can very easily end up getting sick at the doctor’s office, especially with COVID-19 around now!

Most parents are in that office for the same reason as you – to have their child evaluated for an illness. And your child’s immune system is the weakest when they are fighting off an illness.

I like to use the analogy of war. If all your soldiers are fighting one battle, they are extremely vulnerable to being attacked by another enemy.

In our scenario, the soldiers are your child’s immune system.

How to Avoid Getting Sick at the Pediatrician’s Office

So here are some great tips on how to come to the battlefield prepared to prevent exposure to illness and avoid getting sick at the doctor’s office.

1. Strike At Dawn

Well, not really dawn… But if it works with your schedule, I highly recommend trying to get the first available appointment of the day. The staff is likely disinfecting throughout the day and after every patient due to COVID. But an early morning appointment will still significantly decrease your wait time and your exposure to germs.

2. Avoid the Sick Bay

Many pediatrician’s offices separate sick and healthy (well check) patients in the waiting room.

If you are waiting for your annual check up or vaccinations, DO NOT GO NEAR THE SICK AREA!

I can’t tell you how many parents come to the ER with complaints of fever, and tell me their child was recently at the doctor for an annual check up. If you are there to be seen for illness, please respect the other parents and children in the waiting room and wait in the area designated for illnesses.

During COVID times, a common practice is to avoid the doctor waiting room completely. If your pediatrician has a system in place for allowing you to remain in your car until your appointment time, that’s fantastic! The less contact you and your child have with the waiting room, the better!

3. Stay Away from the Watering Hole

Please bring your child something to drink. Children love the shiny machine that spits out water! You must have ammunition to fight against the temper tantrum that will occur when you tell them NO! I suggest bringing juice.

Many viruses are spread by exposure to saliva, and you are almost guaranteed to be exposed to something while using the water fountain.

It’s one of the main reasons for schools and other public places closing communal water fountains completely during COVID times. So the best option really is to make sure and bring a drink (and maybe even a snack!) for your little one to pass the time.

4. Secure the Troops (with a Stroller)

If your child is of an appropriate age and your office permits it, try to keep them in the stroller. It will decrease the chance of being exposed to germs if your child is not climbing on the benches and crawling on the floor.

It’s also totally acceptable to break out all the distraction devices!

I always say to use toys, iPads, and phone apps in moderation and at the appropriate times. And this would be one of those times! Snacks are also a great way to keep kids in their strollers.

5. Bring Your Own Ammo

Bring your own anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. Yes, every doctor’s office has them all over the place now. But there’s no harm in doubling down on disinfecting your surroundings.

When you get into the examination room, you can wipe everything down for good measure – most importantly the examination bed! The thin piece of paper the nurse pulls down to protect your child against the rhinovirus from the child before him is not enough! Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy, it’s better than having a sick child for the next 7-10 days!

Final Thoughts to Avoid Getting Sick at the Doctor’s Office

You don’t have to visit the pediatrician for every little illness or injury. If you can wait it out at home, you may keep your kids from getting exposed to something even worse in the doctor’s office.

But there are times when a trip to the pediatrician is unavoidable. Whether your child is already sick or just in for a well visit, arm yourself with some helpful tools to avoid getting sick at the pediatrician’s office!

~Dr. Katie

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