Parents know that their babies go to the doctor a lot in the
first year for vaccines and checkups. The American Academy of Pediatrics
recommends babies have routine checkups 7 times in the first year of life.
As the kids get older, guidelines ease down, recommending that
children go annually for a checkup after age 3. It’s not uncommon for healthy
kids to miss a couple years as life gets busy, said Dr. Neil Kaneshiro, Premera
Blue Cross associate medical director and chairperson for the Immunization
Action Coalition of Washington. A risk, though, is that kids will miss
recommended vaccines. If you’re not sure if your child (or you!) is up to date,
you can check the state immunization record database.
Did you know there’s another vaccine window around the time
kids turn 11?
That’s when kids get their adolescent vaccines. Schools
require what’s commonly known as the Tdap shot. This helps prevent tetanus
(painful muscle tightening and stiffness all over the body), diphtheria (a
thick coating over the throat that leads to breathing problems, heart failure,
paralysis, and death), and pertussis (whopping cough).
It’s also recommended that kids get meningitis and HPV
vaccines around this time. It might seem like children are getting more
vaccines now than most adults had as children. This is because they are! We can
now protect against more disease than ever before.
Like most vaccines, the most common risk is temporary pain,
redness, or swelling at the site of the shot. Talk to your child’s doctor if
you have any concerns or questions about specific vaccines. This document from
the Washington Department of Health also answers commonly asked vaccine
There’s been a lot of concern about the measles outbreak in
our region. Some parents are asking if their kids can be vaccinated early, Dr.
Kaneshiro said. Unless the child is in a high-risk situation, vaccinating
before 12 months of age is not necessary.
Immunity can lessen with age, so adults can check with their
primary care provider to see if a booster is necessary. If you’re not sure if
you had the vaccine as a child, it won’t hurt you to get it again.