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More people skipping routine doctor visits amid pandemic

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 08:54:24-05

It's a trend a number of medical providers are noticing: more and more people are skipping out on yearly check-ups and procedures during the pandemic.

In fact, a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation from the first few months of the pandemic showed nearly one in two people had skipped an appointment or delayed care because of COVID-19.

Family practice physician and ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Janice Johnston has noticed the trend in her own practice.

"Definitely at the beginning of the pandemic," she explains. "There was a drastic decline in those that were coming in for preventative measures, vaccines, pap smears that kind of thing -- and understandably so. There was a lot of unknown regarding the virus and how it's transmitted and the whole pandemic in general."

But now that we're a year into the pandemic, Dr. Johnston wants people to get back into the office to make sure they're staying on top of all areas of their health, and that starts with vaccines.

"There are a number of vaccinations that are so important, especially for older adults to make sure that you're maintaining. Your flu shot, your pneumonia vaccine, even tetanus shot, which can help protect against whooping cough."

And then there are those health screenings that Dr. Johnston calls "The Big Three": mammograms, prostate exams, and colonoscopies.

"Those things are super important," Dr. Johnston explains.

This advice is especially crucial for people dealing with chronic diseases, but Dr. Johnston says it's not limited to that population. Sometimes, a quick trip to your provider could help you catch something before it becomes an even bigger problem.

"I can't tell you how many times when I've been examining a patient or listening to their lungs that I find something on their back."

The goal of the ABC15 Health Insider initiative is to bring you the most up-to-date medical information so that you can make informed and empowered health decisions for you and your family. We bring your questions and concerns to our ABC15 Health Insider team, who then uses their own knowledge and expertise to get you the answers you need.

If you have a question for our ABC15 Health Insider team or have an idea for a story we should follow, e-mail us at HealthInsider@ABC15.com.