The Importance of Back-to-School Vaccines for Kids and Well-Child Checkups

This article appeared in ABC4 Utah. Read more here.

Besides new backpacks and shoes, parents should be thinking about back-to-school immunizations and well-visit check-ups as summer comes to a close. Some kids have gotten behind in their regular vaccinations, but now is a great time to catch up.

“We don’t know what a new school year may bring,” said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, medical director for preventive medicine for Intermountain Healthcare. “We do know that vaccines have helped safely protect children for decades, to the point that many diseases like mumps or measles are rarely seen now.”

“Your pediatrician can help you find what you need,” said Dr. Sheffield. “Vaccines are also available from your local health department. Even if you don’t have insurance the Vaccines for Children Program is available to those who qualify.”

Dr. Sheffield said children can be protected from the following diseases through vaccination:

  • Influenza (flu)
  • HPV
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB)
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Pneumonia

In addition to school-required vaccines, the HPV vaccine is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for kids between the age of 9 and 12 years old to prevent six different types of cancer. Influenza and COVID vaccines help protect against severe respiratory viruses that spread around the community during the school year.

“We insist on seat belts, helmets, and other safety precautions for our children to keep them safe,” said Dr. Sheffield. “Vaccines are just one more way we work to keep our children healthy and safe.”

Well-child checkups are doctor’s visits scheduled at specific times in a child’s life where your pediatrician can analyze their growth and development and address ways to keep them healthy.

Your child’s well visits serve many purposes, but they are primarily an opportunity for your pediatrician to ensure your child is growing and developing properly. It is important to catch delays and disorders as early as possible to ensure children get the treatment necessary to help them function optimally.

“Your child’s well-check can be a time to catch up on missing vaccines, as well as a time to review developmental assessments, vision and blood pressure screenings, important mental health screenings, and other guidance critical to a child’s health and growth,” said Dr. Sheffield.

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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