It’s that time of year again. Everyone is getting back in the swing of things with school starting. Your child might be due for a check-up at the doctor’s office as well. This annual check-up is a great way to check in and see how your child’s health is developing. Usual topics of discussion include your child’s physical, nutritional, and behavioral well-being, and often children are wondering if they need shots.
Learn more about routine vaccinations and how they help to keep your child healthy, but also help keep your community’s health safe.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend every child receive routine vaccinations unless there are certain medical conditions or reactions that contraindicate them. This guidance applies to children from infancy up through their teenage years. Immunizations are intended to protect your child when they are not strong enough to fight life-threatening diseases.
Your child’s immune system is still developing after birth, and the vaccines given early on in life are meant to protect them at ages when they are most susceptible to those illnesses. By following the vaccination schedule from the CDC, you can protect your child and others in the community from serious illness, possibly even death.
Vaccinations are most often given at a child’s well-visit. However, if your child had his/her well visit and have since had a birthday and are due for vaccines, your doctor’s office should be able to arrange for your child to obtain those vaccines.
The Importance of Staying on Schedule
Unfortunately, sometimes misinformation, fear, and confusion about vaccines leads some parents to decide to not immunize their children. To see the complete list of vaccinations with recommended timing, visit CDC.gov/vaccines. The website also has scientific information on the safety of vaccinations. If you have questions about vaccines and their safety, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor’s office to discuss this further. It is important to have accurate information in order to make an informed decision.
Following the recommended vaccination schedule will protect your child from 14 preventable diseases including meningitis, pertussis, measles, tetanus, chicken pox, and polio. Although some of these may seem like they are unlikely, it is because of vaccines that we don’t see the devastation of these diseases very often.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk and can spread diseases to other vulnerable people in their family and community, including those who are too young or unable to be fully protected, are aging, or are pregnant.
What Should You Do?
A lot of research went into creating the immunization schedule providers use and it has been proven safe by countless studies and research. This schedule is meant to protect children when they are most vulnerable and to provide doses that will produce the longest lasting protection.
If your insurance doesn’t cover vaccines, you don’t have insurance or don’t have a care provider, the CDC offers a program which offers free vaccines. The local county health department is also a great resource and provides many vaccines. Call toll free at 800-232-4636 to find out where you can get free vaccinations for your child if you qualify.
If you are anxious or hesitant about an upcoming appointment, please speak to your provider and share your feelings with them. They can answer any questions or concerns you may have.
by Nancy Grauso-Eby, D.O., FAAP
Nancy Grauso-Eby, D.O., FAAP, is a pediatrician with UPMC Primary Care, 175 Pine Street, Suite 200, Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grauso-Eby, call 570-326-2447. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PediatricsNCPA.