We all know that yearly physicals are important for adults—it’s the one time someone’s going to check your cholesterol, after all. But even for those near-invincible young kids and adolescents, yearly visits are just as important as your own. And with the pandemic disrupting both parents’ and kids’ schedules over the last year-and-a-half, it’s vital for kids to get up-to-date for both wellness visits and vaccinations before they go back to school this fall.
"Children need physicals every year to check for preventable illnesses, and if kids play sports, they need a physical in order to play,” says Dr. Maria Covington, a pediatrician at Columbia Memorial Health, which has three pediatric care centers in Hudson, Catskill, and Valatie, as well as 12 primary care offices across Columbia, Greene, and northern Dutchess counties.
“Annual wellness visits are also where I look for heart issues, breathing issues, if medications such as inhalers are refilled, and if patients have seen their specialists, such as a neurologist,” Dr. Covington says.
Those going into kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and middle and high school needing routine vaccinations—measles, mumps, and rubella, chicken pox, meningococcal, tetanus, diphtheria, and the flu shot—can receive them at their annual wellness visit.
For those who have already had a recent wellness visit, parents can simply call a CMH pediatric or primary care office to schedule a nurse visit for any missing immunization(s).
While vaccinations are certainly a hot topic right now, the ones mandated for schools are very well studied, says Dr. Covington. “These immunizations are very safe, have few side effects, and the timing of the current recommended vaccine schedule is spread out in a particular way to protect kids as much as possible before the risk of those contagious illnesses are high,” she says. "When I was little, I was scared of getting shots, but my mother made sure I was fully vaccinated to keep me safe. When I got older, I realized how lucky I was to be protected against all these infections and the illnesses they cause. I strongly recommend vaccinations to keep children and families healthy and safe."
To learn more about Primary and Pediatric Care at Columbia Memorial Health or to schedule an appointment for your child’s wellness visit or immunization, visit Columbiamemorialhealth.org.