Many parents schedule their children’s well-child visit, or “check-up,” during the summer months to prepare for the start of a new school year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, annual well-child visits are important to a child’s overall health because they help track development and provide clinicians a time to share wellness guidance and advice. Well-child visits are a great opportunity for providers to help parents ensure their child’s vaccinations are up to date, and to keep young patients healthy and free from vaccine-preventable illnesses throughout the school year.
Which patients are most likely to need updated vaccinations?
While most children following the recommended immunization schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will receive many vaccinations within the first few years of life, there are some key ages as they grow that providers should be mindful of during well-child visits.
By the time a child turns 11 years old, there are a number of immunizations that are recommended, including Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), as well as their first shot of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY). The CDC also recommends that children between the ages of 11 and 12 receive their first dose of the two-shot series of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations. The HPV vaccine is most effective at this age because the risk of exposure increases after age 13.
Sixteen-year-olds and older teens heading off to college are also patient groups for providers to consider at annual visits. The CDC recommends that first-year college students who will live in residential housing be up to date on their meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Patients who have adhered to the CDC-recommended schedule will have received a booster dose of MenACWY at age 16, but providers can check immunization records and encourage those who have lapsed to get the booster before heading off to school. Children 16 and up may also benefit from the Serogroup B Meningococcal vaccine (Men B) if they are at a higher risk of exposure to the disease.
How can providers utilize well-child visits?
The nature of well-child visits makes them a great opportunity for providers to discuss preventative health measures like immunizations. Parents and patients look to their provider for advice and guidance with health decisions, so a provider recommendation can go a long way to increase awareness of immunization schedules. Reminders sent in between visits, whether through the mail or electronically, can alert parents and patients of needed vaccinations and help them prepare mentally ahead of the visit. By encouraging parents to be engaged with their child’s vaccination schedule, providers can help parents feel in control and avoid “surprise” vaccinations during a visit.
With summer approaching, well-child visits are bound to be on parents’ minds. Routine assessments of patient vaccine needs and personalized recommendations from providers will help prevent illness and ensure a healthy school year.
For more information on teen visits, view Sanofi’s fact sheets on the importance of the 16-year-old immunization visit.