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Pediatricians busier as kids socialize again

Appointments at pediatricians' offices are filling up now that children are back to interacting with each other.

DICKSON CITY, Pa. — Pediatrician Dr. Timothy Welby is used to his office in Dickson City getting swamped in the winter months and then slowing down in the summer. This year, it's the opposite.

Dr. Welby says the past winter was the quietest he's seen in 25 years.

"Nobody was in school, nobody was in day care, nobody was in sports, so children really didn't get a chance to get those sort of exposures which give them the illnesses, and so we weren't seeing the illnesses."

We asked Dr. Welby if that concerns him, since it's important for kids to get sick in order to build up their immune systems.

"All of these children who didn't get sick last winter, they got sick for years before, they're going to get sick for years moving forward. So, one season of not getting sick a lot is probably not going to cause them immune issues in the long term," Dr. Welby said.

And indeed, those immune systems are getting put back to work. Dr. Welby's office is beginning to fill up with more patients than usual this time of year.

"Now that they're back, in the last two months of school, sports, dance class, everything, we're seeing more illnesses."

On a day-to-day basis, Dr. Welby says he's certainly not overwhelmed with patients, but over the course of the last six weeks, he says the increase has definitely been noticeable.

Marisa Ryon brought her oldest daughter Carolena here to get her second COVID-19 shot. She says since all her kids went to school in person last year, she's not worried about them, but understands why some parents might be.

"Especially because all school districts worked at a different pace; some did not go right back to school. So, they might be experiencing that introduction back into the world right now," Ryon said.

Dr. Welby is not seeing an increase in flu or COVID-19 cases; it's the typical summer viruses that go around every year, just more cases of them this time.

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