As school approaches, immunizations are on every parent’s mind. Keeping up with all the requirements and worrying about the possible fears of your children can be stressful, but there are several ways to take the worry out of an immunization visit. The first step to feeling at ease is to gather good information.
Each year the Center for Disease Control (CDC) puts out an updated vaccination schedule. This list shows the vaccine along with how many doses are required for children 18 years and younger. You can use this as a good reference and then write down questions you may have about any requirements. “I definitely encourage parents to write down their concerns about vaccines before the visit,” recommends Dr. Cheryl Remigio, pediatrician at UT Health East Texas Physicians Tyler. Some states and school systems can have different requirements, but Texas follows the CDC schedule. However, children coming from other states might be lacking some doses, such as missing the Hepatitis A vaccine. If you’ve just moved, take extra care to make sure your child meets all the requirements.
Prior to the visit it’s important to set up what the process will be like for your children. Putting them at ease by being clear and calm yourself will work wonders. Dr. Remigio offers some advice on how you could handle the subject. “I think it is best a (older) child knows before the visit that they are getting vaccines. It is helpful to approach your child with a positive statement regarding shots, ie. “It will help you stay healthy.” rather than saying "You're getting a shot if you don't behave." Parents’ behaviors regarding vaccines will rub off on their children so parents should also be mindful of how they react to shots. If they are worried about it, their kids will also be worried.”
While you and your child are at the physician’s office for a well visit, it’s a great time to take advantage of being with a medical professional by asking questions. Beyond asking questions about vaccines, this visit can be a good time to ask age-related questions or list concerns if your child has any known issues. Also realize a child may wish to speak to the physician without you present about subjects they feel are sensitive. Dr. Remigio has found that adolescents are often more hesitant to talk about a subject like puberty in front of their parent, but have a lot of questions they want to ask.
Of course, parents could be a little worried about vaccines too, which is why your physician is there to explain what to expect for each stage. “A common argument from parents that request an alternate schedule is that they think it is too many vaccines at one time and it might overwhelm their kids' immune system. Our immune system is exposed to thousands of antigens on a daily basis, so 3 shots really isn't a lot. Giving the vaccines on the recommended schedule also decreases the amount of painful experiences, as 3 shots in 1 visit will just feel like 1, compared to getting 1 shot every 6-8 weeks to catch up on the recommended schedule.”
No matter how many questions you have, your physician is there to help you in any way they can.
After you have compiled all your questions together, schedule vaccinations by calling the UT Health East Texas North Campus at 903-877-7000, or 903-596-DOCS for all other clinics.