Why Well Visits & Vaccines Are Important

After months of data, media, and government officials urging us not to leave home for anything non-essential, it may be challenging to now decide what’s worth venturing out for. One thing you shouldn’t avoid: your child’s annual well visit.

Many parents check these appointments off their to-do list during the summer, especially if their child will need a sports physical for the upcoming school term. This year is no exception, especially if vaccines are due!

From ages 0 to 2, infants and toddlers require a number of vaccines to protect them from harmful illnesses. Ages 4, 11, and 16 are also significant check-up years for vaccination. Many of these vaccines are referred to by abbreviations and/or give protection from more than one illness:

VACCINE NAME PROTECTS AGAINST TOTAL DOSES AGE(S) GIVEN
HepB Hepatitis B 3 Birth, 1-2 mos., 6-18 mos.
RV Rotavirus 3 (oral liquid) 2 mos., 4 mos., 6 mos.
DTaP Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis 6 2 mos., 4 mos., 6 mos., 15-18 mos., 4 yrs.

Tdap booster at age 11/12.

Hib Haemophilus influenzae type b 4 2 mos., 4 mos., 6 mos., 12-15 mos.
PCV13 Pneumococcus 4 2 mos., 4 mos., 6 mos., 12-15 mos.
IPV Polio 3 2 mos., 4 mos., 6-18 mos., age 4
MMR Measles, mumps, rubella 2 Ages 1 and 4
Varicella “Chicken pox” 3 Ages 1 and 4
HepA Hepatitis A 2 First dose age 1, second dose 6 months later.
Gardasil HPV (Human papillomavirus) 2 or 3, depending on age Typically offered at age 11, second dose 6 mos. later. Three doses required if started after age 15.
MenACWY Meningococcal disease 2 Age 11/12, booster at 16.
MenB Meningococcal disease 1 Age 16-18
Flu Shot Influenza Annual 6 mos. & up

This schedule may be daunting, and none of us like to see our kids squirming with anxiety. “Rest assured that everyone in our practices is compassionate toward our patients and their caregivers,” says Dr. Lawrence Jones of East Louisville Pediatrics. “We wouldn’t recommend any vaccine that we don’t give to our own children. The discomfort is minimal compared to what every shot protects them from, both in childhood and for the rest of their lives.”

A current vaccination schedule is also required for schools, daycares, and many after-school or extracurricular programs. Further, college dorms typically require proof of vaccination against meningococcal disease. The timings for each vaccine are based on how a child or adolescent’s immune system will best respond and be protected at ages when they are most likely to suffer complications. Infants, for example, receive a battery of vaccines because they are more likely to have serious symptoms. It’s an added benefit that they’re protected from these diseases for life once all doses have been properly administered.

Even if vaccines aren’t due this year, well visits provide an opportunity for your physician to check in on growth, vision, emotional wellness, medication, and updates on any chronic or newly-emerging conditions. He or she can also answer questions you or your child have, make recommendations or referrals, and of course, complete a thorough review of physical systems. Well visits are an essential part of healthcare throughout life, and fostering a positive relationship with health will be beneficial as your adolescent becomes and adult.

If more than a year has gone by since your child’s last well visit and you don’t already have an appointment scheduled, now is the time! Each ONE Pediatrics practice continues to take every precaution to keep families safe, so any risk of exposure to COVID-19 or other illness is minimal.

For more information on vaccines, including an explanations of what symptoms each virus can cause, visit the CDC breakdowns listed below:

Ages 0-6 Years: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf

Ages 7-18 Years: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/teen/parent-version-schedule-7-18yrs.pdf