By Rutherford Regional Health System

Nothing screams “back to school” like taking your kids for an annual physical or routine vaccinations. And while it may not be the brightest part of summer, pediatricians like those at Rutherford Children’s Care in Forest City say it’s essential.

Yearly well-checks. While many kids may be required to get an annual physical for athletic programs or extracurricular activities, this is a habit parents should help form for every child. Yearly check-ups are essential for tracking growth and development and identifying potential health problems before they start or become severe. They also allow parents the opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns with a medical expert, and they serve as a great way to stay up-to-date on essential vaccinations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following well-check schedule for all children.

For newborns through the toddler years:

  • 2 to 5 days old
  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old
  • 12 months old
  • 15 months old
  • 18 months old
  • 2 years old (24 months)
  • 2 ½ years old (30 months)

Once children hit the age of three, they should visit their doctor every year until the age of 21.

For children who participate in athletics, the AAP encourages Pre-participation Physical Exams (PPE), also commonly referred to as a sports physical. Just like a well-check allows a pediatrician to catch health conditions early, a pre-sports physical allows a physician to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical conditions that could be dangerous or physically limiting for the child, like asthma, heart murmurs or bone and joint problems.

Another key reason for annual well-checks is to stay current on vaccinations. The reason is simple: diseases like diphtheria, polio and tetanus cause hospitalization or even death. But thanks to modern medicine, these potentially deadly diseases are preventable. According to the CDC, the following highly contagious and preventable diseases are most prevalent in children under the age of 6:

Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria, Flu (Influenza), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hib, Measles, Mumps, Polio, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Rubella, Tetanus, Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

CDC also recommends that children, pre-teens and teens between the ages of seven and 18 should receive a yearly flu vaccination, as well as vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease and Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis).

If you have questions about your child’s health or need a pediatrician, call Rutherford Children’s Care at 828-287-9325 and get connected with the right physician for your family.