Memorial Regional Health: Make Back-to-School Time Check-up Time
Schedule child wellness checks and immunizations now
Back-to-school time is a great time to catch up with children’s health check-ups. If your kids haven’t seen their pediatrician or family-care provider for a thorough exam in the past year, autumn is perfect, according to Memorial Regional Health pediatrician Dr. Linda Couillard.
“Wellness exams fell off during the pandemic,” Dr. Couillard said. “Understandably, people saw their doctors less than usual for preventive care. But now it’s time to get caught up again.”
A children’s check-up considers all aspects of their health. “I’m looking at growth, nutrition, developmental milestones, vision, social/emotional development, safety, sometimes blood screens—everything,” Couillard said. “It’s a really important visit.”
And while the provider is taking the time to do the thorough exam, the child is getting comfortable with the provider. “The well-child check gives us time to get to know one another,” Couillard said. “And when children feel comfortable with their doctor, they’re less anxious about the next visit.”
Fall is ideal for check-ups, she added, because families think of back-to-school as a time for everything to get organized and settled. That should include wellness. And if children need any follow-up care, eyeglasses, vaccinations, or other support to participate fully and safely at school, it’s good to get those things done early in the school year.
Vaccines Keep Kids Healthy
“Local families are generally great about keeping their kids up-to-date on routine vaccinations,” Couillard said.
In fact, a public health organization called Immunize Colorado monitors vaccination levels by school district, and Moffat County School District has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.
This means that children here are at very low risk of outbreaks of tetanus, haemophilus influenzae type b, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, hepatitis, polio and varicella (chickenpox).
For lots of parent-friendly health information, including the vaccination schedule endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, go to HealthyChildren.org.
In addition to the vaccines listed above, the AAP also recommends children receive vaccinations against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease (pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis). For older children, meningococcal disease and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are also on the AAP list.
If you’re wondering about influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations for your children, the AAP recommends those as well. Most kids aged 6 months and older should receive a flu shot annually.
The flu can be dangerous for children, especially those younger than 5 years old, and because kids are exposed to lots of viruses at school, having them vaccinated helps safeguard your entire household. Flu season starts in September, so getting kids vaccinated now protects them all school year long.
COVID-19 vaccinations are also important for most children aged 6 months and older, according to the AAP. More than 42,000 American children have been hospitalized due to COVID since the start of the pandemic, and thousands of others have suffered heart inflammation, long COVID and other follow-on conditions.
Fortunately, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved for use in children. The Pfizer vaccine comes in a three-shot series over a total of three months, while the Moderna vaccine is two shots taken four weeks apart. It’s safe for kids to receive COVID vaccination at the same time as their other shots. Ask your provider about COVID vaccination for your children.
“Vaccines are one of the most important things we do in pediatrics,” Couillard said. “No vaccine is risk-free, and parents always get to decide, but vaccines are really safe and effective. My own children are fully vaccinated against COVID and every other illness they can be vaccinated for.”
To make an appointment for your children with Dr. Couillard or a family-practice provider at Memorial Regional Health, call 970-826-2480.
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