Prepare for school and get a well-child visit on the books

With COVID-19 continuing to spread within our community, this next school year will look different than years past. One thing is certain, however: families can prepare by scheduling childrens’ annual well-child visit now, to ensure kids meet their school’s medical requirements for vaccinations.

The well-child visit is an annual appointment with a medical provider that assesses childrens’ health and development from infancy to adolescence. Here, your health care team will take measurements, conduct assessments, update immunizations, and offer parents and guardians a chance to talk with a professional about any concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits as a team approach to support the physical, mental and social health of children:

Prevention and Preparation: Your child gets scheduled immunizations to prevent illness. You also can ask your pediatrician about nutrition and safety in the home and at school. Need medical clearance for participation in school sports? Make sure to clarify that when making the appointment with the office, and bring all necessary paperwork to your child’s visit.

Tracking growth and development: See how much your child has grown in the time since your last visit, and talk with your doctor about your child’s development. This is a great opportunity to discuss your child’s milestones, social behaviors, and learning.

Raising concerns: Make a list of topics you want to talk about with your child’s pediatrician such as development, behavior, or sleep, and bring your top three to five questions or concerns with you to talk with your pediatrician at the start of the visit.

Every effort is being made to meet the community’s medical needs while upholding the safety of both patients and healthcare workers. This means that your child’s visit might be conducted virtually, or the medical provider may wish to provide treatments or vaccinations without them leaving the car to reduce their risk of exposure. To limit COVID-19 exposure, most medical offices are allowing only one parent or guardian to attend in-office visits at this time.

Currently, well-child visits are being booked four to six weeks out, and families are advised to contact their pediatrician or primary care provider’s office now to schedule any needed appointments for their children’s return to school. Getting a well-child visit scheduled now can ensure your child meets the necessary health requirements of local school districts, and help relieve some of the anxiety around this unprecedented back-to-school season we are experiencing.

Dr. Allison Steinmetz is a board-certified pediatrician and primary care provider, as well as medical director at Barton Family Medicine in South Lake Tahoe.