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PA Group Encourages Well-Child Doctor Visits Ahead of School Year

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Friday, August 20, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- As students gear up for getting back to school, Pennsylvania childrens' advocates are asking parents to ensure kids are up-to-date on routine immunizations and annual well-child visits.

Pennsylvania Partnerships For Children, with the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has released guidance to keep kids safe and healthy this school year.

Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said along with wearing face masks as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a doctor's visit is the best way to ensure children are protected from contagious diseases, and to track developmental milestones.

"When you look at the overall benefit from ensuring that your child has that continuum of care, really, in getting those well-child visits, it really is critical to get in," King advised. "Just to make sure you're setting them on the path to continued healthy development moving forward."

According to state data, childhood immunizations fell significantly early on in the pandemic. More recent data show improvements by the end of 2020, but gaps remain, especially for kids ages four to ten. Some parents don't immunize children for religious reasons; others are concerned about potential health problems associated with some vaccines, although those risks are reported to be extremely small.

After the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children over age 12, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC endorsed co-administering it with the routine booster shots often required for kids who play fall sports. King noted her organization also supported the recommendation.

"Which is really great because it doesn't put parents in the position of really having to choose, 'OK, one or the other, which am I going to do first?'" King explained. "And that in that one visit, you can really address the variety of needs for vaccinations and other services that are needed."

There are multiple options for parents without employer-based coverage to get health insurance for their children, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. The state's Vaccines for Children Program also provides free immunizations to kids who are uninsured.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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