Vaccines aren’t just for babies

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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

Adolescent vaccines

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 questions


Measles questions

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. 

Popular Articles