Posted on July 14, 2014
By: Rebecca Pawlik, MD
With the kids going back to school soon, now is a great time to get their annual checkup by their physician or health care provider. This visit is also the best time to make sure their immunizations are up-to-date with the current recommendations and school requirements.
Most school-aged children receive several vaccines at their 4, 5, or 6-year-old checkup, and then the next set of vaccination occurs at 11 or 12 years of age. However, each year the physician will assess the child’s status of vaccines to make sure he or she is up-to-date.
Some important vaccine highlights this year include:
- The meningitis vaccine: One of the newest recommendations is a second dose of the meningitis vaccine for high school students, usually at the age of 16; the first dose has been routinely given at 11 or 12 years of age. Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord that can be more easily transmitted when students are in close contact with each other.
- The HPV vaccine: This vaccine—which prevents genital warts in boys and girls and cervical cancer in girls—is now approved for boys ages 9 to 26 and has been approved for girls of the same age since 2006. It is a series of three vaccines, and the first dose is usually given at 11 or 12 years of age. Because the vaccine is to prevent a sexually transmitted infection from occurring, it is important that children get this vaccine before they become sexually active.
- The tetanus-diptheria booster: Your child’s tetanus boosters should be up to date, especially because the booster contains the vaccine for pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Pertussis has been on the rise in Michigan recently, but the risk of this respiratory illness can be greatly reduced with the vaccine.
Although immunizations are an important part of the annual checkup, the visit to the office is also an opportunity for the physician to review the child’s growth, eating habits, school performance, social interactions, and safety. The health care provider will do a complete physical exam and assess the child’s need for any testing. Additionally, he or she will be able to provide recommendations to the parent and child about topics such as healthy eating, exercise, risk reduction, and any other areas of concern that have come up during the visit.