Valley physicians see drop in office visits, vaccines during COVID-19, urge people to return

Physicians across the country and in the Central Valley have seen a large decline in patient visits since the coronavirus pandemic began.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Physicians across the country and in the Central Valley have seen a large decline in patient visits since the coronavirus pandemic began.

"So families have been pushing out their well-child visits, so vaccinations are getting delayed. According to the latest data from the CDC, you have a drop from 20 to 40 percent in terms of vaccination rates and that's going to pose significant problems, particularly for other infections such as measles, pertussis," said Dr. John Moua, a UCSF Fresno pediatric pulmonologist.

He's concerned about children who are not getting the care they need.

Many have chosen to avoid coming to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We would hate for it to be a delay of care not just for the well-child, but the sick child," Dr. Moua said.

The Fresno Madera Medical Society, which represents 1,400 Valley physicians, urges people to head back to the doctors or call, especially if they're not feeling well or have unusual symptoms.

"If someone has symptoms that suggest TIA or stroke, they can get there ASAP and we can intervene much of the time," said Alan Birnbaum, president of Fresno Madera Medical Society. "Same thing with people who have chest pains who might have a systemic or major heart attack."

While more COVID-19 testing is available now, doctors are concerned about what the fall or winter could bring.

"Most importantly, as fall comes, please get the flu vaccine at least to protect you from one of the viruses," Dr. Moua said.

Health professionals are also urging people to stay home if they're feeling sick and use virtual health options when they can.

Hospital staffs say they are taking precautions to keep patients safe. In addition to having people's temperature check, they're also cleaning patient rooms and sanitizing areas in the hospital.
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