Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The coronavirus outbreak has created a frightening, cash-strapped couple of months for pediatricians, as parents deferred vaccines and care for their kids.

Why it matters: Pediatric offices are still among the hardest hit physician specialties, and doctors are worried important care is falling by the wayside.

What they're saying: "Our patient volumes are slowly increasing, but it's certainly not anywhere close to where it used to be," said Daniel Summers, a private practice pediatrician in the northern suburbs of Boston.

By the numbers: Pediatric office visits dropped by more than 60% from March to April and were the slowest to recover of all other physician specialties going into May, according to researchers at Harvard University and health tech firm Phreesia.

  • Parents had a lot of anxiety about bringing in their kids for routine checkups and shots, knowing a health care setting could be a highly contagious spot.

Where it stands: Pediatricians have changed how they care for kids, with dwindling cash reserves.

  • Most offices pivoted immediately to virtual visits, like other specialties.
  • As they've begun to reopen, they're now better stocked on personal protective equipment, and in-person visits are often staggered. For example, wellness checks could be in the mornings, while sick visits (including potential coronavirus cases) can be reserved for afternoons.
  • Some pediatricians got federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, which has provided some financial stability since they were shut out of the initial health care bailout payments.

The bottom line: Families are still delaying care, even in acute cases — like when one child fell off a trampoline and broke an arm, but waited a day before getting it checked out, said Sara Goza, a practicing pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • "We're missing things because kids aren't coming in," she said.

Go deeper

CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S.

Cruise Ships docked in April at the port at Marina Long Beach due to a no-sail order in Long Beach, in California. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

There have been at least 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters, "in addition to at least 41 reported deaths," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

Driving the news: The CDC released the data from the period of March 1 through Sept. 29 in an emailed statement confirming the extension of a no-sail order for cruise ships through Oct. 31, as first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday in his article revealing CDC director Robert Redfield was overruled in a push to extend the order into 2021.

Oct 1, 2020 - Health

Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021

A laboratory technician preparing a blood sample for a vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday that his company's coronavirus vaccine won't be available for widespread distribution until at least spring 2021, according to Financial Times.

Why it matters: Bancel told FT that the drugmaker will not seek emergency authorization for FDA approval for its vaccine for front-line medical workers and at-risk individuals until Nov. 25 at the earliest.