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October 01, 2021

The importance of catching up on childhood vaccinations

Children's Health Vaccinations

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many well-visits were missed, routine screenings were skipped, and childhood vaccinations were delayed. With the return of in-person school and daycare, it’s more important than ever for us to keep our children safe and maximize their chances for in-person learning. Protecting kids against preventable childhood illnesses is the best tool we’ve got, and that’s why vaccines are so important.

Luckily, there’s no deadline or window of missed opportunity when it comes to vaccines. It’s never too late to get your child caught up on their vaccines. Now that in-person visits are occurring safely again, there’s no reason to avoid the doctor’s office. Medical staff have taken extra measures to ensure the safety of your child and your family.

The success of childhood vaccinations

“Childhood vaccination has proven to be one of the most effective public health strategies to control and prevent disease.” — National Center for Biotechnology Information

We’re lucky to live during a time when vaccines are available to protect our children. Before vaccines, thousands of people (many of them children) died every year from diseases that now seem like ancient history — smallpox, diphtheria, polio, or rubella. Ironically, the fact that these diseases sound odd or unfamiliar is a sign that vaccines are successful — they have brought these once-prevalent diseases to historically low levels. But the only way we can continue to keep these diseases at bay and protect our children and communities is by vaccinating children according to the recommended vaccine schedule. If we don’t, some of these diseases can easily return with a vengeance.

It’s never too late to catch up

Last year’s delay in routine well-child visits resulted in a notable drop in childhood vaccinations. If you delayed or skipped vaccinations for your child last year, now’s the time to get back on track. Vaccines work and are the best thing you can do to keep your child healthy.

As schools, daycares, and camps reopen and offer in-person learning and care, help keep all our children safe by doing what you can to get kids caught up on their recommended vaccines. Review your child’s recommended vaccines based on their age and talk to their doctor if you missed any last year.

Recommended vaccine schedules

• Birth to age 6
• Ages 7-18

In addition to vaccines, there are other routine screenings, such as lead testing, that are recommended for certain age groups. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about any screenings you may have missed last year. And remember, we’ve all been through a lot with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so mental health screening is also important.

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) health plans provide coverage for well-child visits, developmental screenings, lead testing, immunizations, and more! To learn about benefits for enrolled dependents, call the number on the back of your member ID card.

COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available for children 12 and older, and is 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 complications and hospitalizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that “all eligible children, teens, family and household members be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The COVID-19 vaccine will protect your teen against the highly contagious Delta variant that is now the dominant strain in the U.S. Vaccinating your teen will also provide another layer of protection for any younger siblings in your household who may be too young to get vaccinated. And if your children are too young to get vaccinated, it’s important that they continue wearing masks indoors (age 2 and up) to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19.

Flu vaccine

Now’s the time to start thinking about the upcoming flu season. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the best time to get the flu shot for your child. Many health care professionals recommend getting it as early as possible (in September or October) since an early vaccine offers the best protection for the entire flu season. Independence members can get their flu vaccine at no cost.

With current COVID-19 rates in children increasing, and the concerning rise of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children as well, it will be even more important than ever for children to get their flu vaccines this year.

Remember, it’s never too late. Don’t worry if you missed a recommended vaccine for your child. It’s never too late to get caught up. Better late than never!

In-person visits are safe

With in-person visits kept to a minimum last year, many doctors turned to virtual visits. While virtual visits still have their benefits, since then, doctors have learned how to safely navigate in-person visits and many people have returned to seeing their doctor in person for routine well-visits.

If you still have some hesitation about bringing your child for an in-person well- visit, talk to your child’s doctor. Call the office before a visit and ask about the special measures they have in place to ensure your child’s safety. Medical offices and clinics are taking extra steps to see children safely during this time by using, for example, health screenings, masks, temperature-taking, and waiting in your car before your appointment.

This content was originally published on IBX Insights.

About Dr. Nuria Lopez-Pajares

Dr. Nuria Lopez-Pajares joined Independence Blue Cross in 2018 after practicing primary care and population health for 18 years. With a background in public health and preventive medicine, she is now a medical director involved in utilization management, case management, and quality improvement. What she loves about this job is the opportunity to put prevention into practice and educate.

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