Staying Up to Date with Pediatric Visits and Vaccines: Here's Why It’s Important
As parents, we understand how important it is to keep our children healthy and active. The last two years have certainly thrown us curve balls and many children have missed or delayed visits to their pediatrician. But it’s not too late to catch up!
Pediatric well-visits are critical to ensuring that your child is reaching important milestones, especially for those 2 years and under. These visits allow for a complete and comprehensive check of your child’s overall health. During a well-visit, your child’s pediatrician will check for appropriate social, cognitive and language development, ensure proper growth and provide age-appropriate vaccinations to strengthen your child’s immunity. Your pediatrician will also check your child’s blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. This is a great opportunity for parents to discuss any concerns they have about their child’s health. These visits also allow you to build a relationship with your child’s doctor.
Your pediatrician may also talk to and play with your child to see if he or she is developing and meeting specific milestones. A missed milestone could be a sign of an underlying problem, so your doctor or another specialist may want to take a closer look by using a more thorough test or exam.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screening for all children during regular well-child visits from 2 months to 5 years old.
Keeping up to date with your child’s vaccines ensures their immune system is providing them optimal protection. Getting your child vaccinated on the recommended schedule is the best way to keep them healthy. If your child misses a shot, you don't need to start over. Call your pediatrician and they can schedule the next shot. The vaccine recommendations are divided into two age groups:
Important childhood vaccinations include the following:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
- Pneumococcal conjugate
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- COVID-19 as soon as eligible
Once children turn 4 years old and receive immunizations to start school, it’s easy to forget about maintaining regular visits with your pediatrician, but it’s essential for parents to continue bringing their children in for a yearly visit even if they don't need immunizations. Many social and educational topics are covered during these years in addition to monitoring growth and overall health. A good rule of thumb is, after your child starts kindergarten, you should plan on bringing them in once a year for a visit. Scheduling that visit around their birthday is an easy way to make sure you don't forget.
How can you prepare for a pediatric well-visit?
- Make notes about what you’ve noticed about your child’s health and development. Include any changes in behavior or family routines.
- Write a list of questions. You will have time to ask them during your visit. If you have many questions, ask the most important ones first and plan for another time for a longer discussion. Encourage your teen to ask questions about his/her own health.
- Gather information that might be helpful for your pediatrician to know. Share information from school or childcare provider so your physician can learn more about your child.
A well-visit isn’t the only time you can seek care or ask questions. If you think of something after your child’s visit, don’t hesitate to contact the doctor. It’s important to keep them up to date on any new developments or changes. This can help in making the most out of your next appointment.
The pediatric team at Ochsner provides prospective parent appointments to help find the right pediatrician for your child and family. We also offer extended hours for appointments in the early morning and evening at many locations, and virtual care visits are also available.
Click here to schedule online or call 504-354-3116. Use our online search tool to find a pediatrician near you.
To learn more about Dr. Pamela Musacchia, or to make an appointment, click here.