Jeanne Craft, MD, FAAP
New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

We are all emerging into a new normal. After more than a year of living under the shadow of the SARS-COV2 pandemic, businesses are opening, families are travelling, and friends
are gathering.Vaccination, handwashing, masking if you are unvaccinated, and staying home if you are sick remain crucially important.

We still have some catching up to do. Immunization rates have improved but are still not up to pre-pandemic levels. Many children have also missed their routine lead screening. Together with the Department of Health and other community partners NJAAP is working to get children caught up. Mental Health challenges have risen as children and adolescents have struggled with the fear and unpredictability of the past year. It has been a traumatic 18 months for all of us. During the recent New Jersey Pediatric Residency Collaborative Summit, a poet voiced the need to nurture the relationship between doctors and the patients they serve, to connect with the whole child.This is what we do, this is a Pediatrician Super-Power.

In our exuberance for the reopening of our communities, we need to remind our patients, their families and ourselves that along with longer and warmer days, come the risks of summer. Tick and mosquito borne disease, drowning and other water related injuries, sun and heat injury are all of concern. Sports teams are getting back to busier schedules, and risk of injury is high when children, adolescents (their coaches and parents too) underestimate the level of deconditioning they have undergone over the past year.

As we emerge from this pandemic, we continue to take care of our patients and ourselves:

For the children and adolescents we serve:

Test them for lead and act quickly to treat and reduce toxicity in their environment.

Screen them for developmental delays and autism.

Protect them by getting them caught up with routine childhood vaccines, and by supporting vaccination against SARS- COV2 as more children become eligible.

Support them by screening for depression and other mental challenges and by connecting with local resources to get them help if they need more help than you can offer. Now is a great time to join the Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative if you are not already a member:

For ourselves:

Take time for self-care

Celebrate our families (by blood or by choice) and our friends.

Enjoy the great outdoors, with appropriate insect repellant and sunscreen.

Give back to those who have helped us during these difficult times; it feels good to give.