BATON ROUGE, La – The World Health Organization recently issued a report showing that internationally, children are falling behind on routine immunizations. Globally, nearly 25 million babies younger than a year old had not gotten basic vaccines. That is the highest reported drop since 2009. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has also reported drops in immunization rates among school-age children since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds families that it’s important to schedule at least one checkup per year for children and make sure they are up to date on shots they need, depending on their age and health history.
“Routine immunization is one of our strongest public health defenses. It protects children from serious illnesses like polio and measles that as recently as the last century frequently caused death or permanent disability,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who is one of Blue Cross’ medical directors.
Vaccine schedules and recommendations change based on medical science developments and updates, so it’s important to regularly ask your child’s doctor for guidance.
“For example, children today get chickenpox vaccines, which were not developed when many of us were growing up, and we may not be aware of when it’s needed,” Dr. Lemelle said. “And while most vaccines are given to babies and younger children, adolescents and teenagers need routine immunizations to protect against meningitis, HPV and other illnesses. That’s why it’s important to schedule wellness visits for your children. It helps you stay on top of shots, screenings or tests they need.”
Vaccine and Checkup Recommendations for Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies have regular checkups between birth and age two. After that, children need at least one doctor’s visit a year.
A big reason for these checkups is to make sure your child is up to date on vaccines to protect against serious illnesses like tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles and Hepatitis B. Many of these vaccines should be given when children are infants through age 6. Children need three vaccines at ages 11-12 to protect against meningitis and HPV and to get a tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough (Tdap) booster. Older children may need additional boosters or vaccines, especially if this is a requirement to attend college or do certain activities like international travel.
Children ages six months and older should get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine. Children 5 and older who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine should get a booster when eligible, depending on their health and risk factors.
Blue Cross covers the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters at $0 out of pocket for eligible members of individual and employer health plans. Eligible members of Medicare and Medicaid plans or uninsured patients also can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine at no cost. This no-cost coverage is required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton explains the benefits of an annual wellness visit for children, particularly when it comes to staying on top of vaccines, in this interview with WWL-TV’s “Great Day Louisiana.” (6:00)
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for updates. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.