Vaccines important for children
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics president, Dr. Sally Goza, unveiled a new parent marketing campaign, “Call Your Pediatrician,” to encourage parents to schedule well-child visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well-child visits should take place in person in a medical home, not in an emergency department, urgent care clinic, or via telehealth. So why, during this time of uncertainty, would the nation’s leading advocacy organization for children create such a campaign?
Unfortunately, the pandemic has led to many children missing important preventive care including vaccines and essential health interventions based upon developmental stages of growth.
Vaccines are undoubtedly one of the greatest success stories of public health. However, there has been a notable decrease in the ordering and administration of vaccines since the national emergency declaration in March. As social distancing recommendations relax, children who have missed vital immunizations will be at risk for preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
It is estimated that vaccines will prevent 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths of today’s American children and adolescents. Unfortunately, vaccines have been so effective that some parents don’t recognize or have forgotten the still very real threat of the diseases that they prevent.
Additionally, negative claims about vaccines lead some parents to hesitate or refuse vaccines altogether. The dramatic decline in Well Child Visits in the last few months has increased that threat. However, the abundance of scientific evidence continues to support the facts: Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives.
While vaccines are an integral part of the Well Child Visit, the purpose of these visits go much further. The goal of health supervision is to promote the health and well-being of all children, from birth though adolescence and young adulthood. These essential visits address specific health interventions based upon developmental stages of growth.
Our first priority is to address any parental concerns. Growth and development are tracked at each visit. This allows pediatricians to identify delays in physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development so that patients may be connected to appropriate resources if needed.
These visits also give us a chance to promote lifelong healthy behaviors for sleep, nutrition, and physical activity, while screening tests help early intervention for conditions such as anemia, lead exposure, and tuberculosis. Other screening tests may identify behavioral health needs.
Since one of every five children in the United States experiences a mental disorder in a given year, identification and treatment is a vital part of a child’s health. Adolescents have many unique needs that should be addressed. It is important for teenagers to have adults in their life that they can trust and talk with about any concerns. Their doctor is a great person to fill this role for many reasons.
Have experience answering all types of teen questions.
Are experts in health issues.
Can ask private questions to help encourage healthy decisions.
Help teens figure out ways to talk with parents or other trusted adults.
Research has shown that teens who perceive that they have good communication and are bonded with an adult are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children in the United States. Promoting safety and injury prevention of both unintentional (and intentional injuries) is a major part of health supervision and the Well Child Visit. Through screening and anticipatory guidance, injuries can be prevented and lives saved by addressing the multitude of age-based concerns such as car seat safety, newborn safe-sleep practices, and safe firearm storage.
The frequency of well- child visits varies.
Between birth and 2 years − specific visits are scheduled every 2-6 months based upon age.
After age 3 − preschool children, school-aged children, and adolescents should be seen by a physician every year.
The consistent message from pediatricians across the country is this: We are here for you! We are ready to take care of your children while keeping everyone safe! During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for families to stay connected to their pediatrician and their child’s medical home. We look forward to seeing you soon, so #CallYourPediatrician today.