As you check off your back-to-school list, don’t forget about your child’s health checklist. August is National Immunization Awareness Month. This is a great time to work with your child’s doctor or nurse to make sure they get caught up on well-child visits and recommended vaccines they may have missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 145 drop in vaccine orders in 2020-2021 compared to 2019, and the measles vaccine was down by more than 20 percent1.
The vaccines approved by the Food and Drug administration protect children from many serious diseases, including polio, whooping cough, meningitis and measles. And vaccines like the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for children starting at age 11-12, protect against cancers caused by the HPV infection.
“Making sure your children are up-to-date on their vaccines is one of the most important things you can do to keep them healthy,” said Deborah Stewart, MD, regional medical director for Florida Blue. “Another is to make sure your child sees their doctor at least once a year for a wellness exam. The pandemic caused many parents to delay or even forgo this important exam, but it’s not too late to catch up.”
Annual wellness visits benefit children in several ways, according to Dr. Stewart. First, in addition to tracking growth and development, your child will receive immunizations to prevent illnesses based on their age. “If they’re behind on their vaccines, your child’s health care team will work with you to get caught up. This time with your child’s care team is also your chance to have any questions or concerns you may have addressed.”
For more than 200 years, vaccines have helped keep us healthy. From the first vaccine developed to prevent smallpox to vaccines that have pretty much eliminated serious childhood illnesses, we rely on vaccines to keep us all healthy2.
And children aren’t the only ones who need vaccines or a wellness visit. Dr. Stewart recommends adults schedule their annual wellness visit, too. “Remember to take care of yourself. Make sure to receive any vaccines you need to stay healthy, including your annual flu shot and COVID-19 booster if needed.”