Off to a Great Start at St. Luke’s
Keeping kids healthy is Katie Albert’s passion as the Northeast Minnesota Immunization Information Connection Regional Coordinator. Here, she spends time with her three daughters, who all see
St. Luke’s Pediatrician Dr. Amanda Webb as their primary care provider.
Why immunizations and Well Child Visits
are so important
Chances are, you don’t live in fear of measles. However, it’s one of the world’s most contagious viruses. There is no treatment, and for those under the age of 5 it can be deadly.
Fortunately, measles was declared as eliminated in the United States more than 20 years ago, thanks to vaccination. “Herd immunity for measles is thought to be reached when 95% of the population is vaccinated,” said Katie Albert, Northeast Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) Regional Coordinator.
“However, things can get out of hand pretty fast,” she said. “Right now, in northeastern Minnesota only 85% of our two-year-olds are up to date on their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. That means the threat of a measles outbreak is a reality.”
“Right now, in northeastern Minnesota only 85% of our two-year-olds are up to date on their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine."
Dropping immunization rates
Nationally, immunization rates have dropped throughout the pandemic. “What’s interesting is, at least for Minnesota, we are not seeing an increase of exemptions,” said Katie. “That means people aren’t intentionally choosing to not vaccinate. They’re probably just not getting their kids in to see their doctors.”
When the pandemic started, it was recommended that everyone stay home and avoid non-urgent medical appointments. Now, families are encouraged to catch up on any health care they may have missed during that time.
“If kids don’t receive the recommended vaccinations we could see an increase of vaccine-preventable diseases,” said St. Luke’s Pediatrician Dr. Amanda Webb. “That’s really serious. The younger kids are, the more vulnerable they are. If there’s an outbreak, kids are at risk of life-altering complications or even death.”
What parents can do
The solution is simple: Keep your kids on track with their Well Child Visits. During these appointments, children can receive the immunizations they need as well as check in with their doctor. This is the recommended schedule:
- 1 month: No immunizations. Ask about Vitamin D drops (if breastfeeding), when to call the doctor, and use of pacifiers.
- 2 months: HepB, RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV13, IPV immunizations. Ask about how much tummy time baby should be getting.
- 4 months: RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV13 and IPV immunizations. Ask about when to start solids.
- 6 months: HepB, RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV13, IPV and flu immunizations. Ask about cleaning baby’s teeth and ‘baby-proofing’ your home.
- 9 months: No immunizations, unless baby missed previous ones.Ask about patience with baby, how often to say ‘no,’ and the use of a highchair.
- 12 months: Hib, PCV13, MMR, VAR, HepA and flu immunizations. Ask about praising good behavior, screen time, and including baby at mealtimes.
- 15 months: HepB, DTaP, Hib, PCV13, IPV, MMR and VAR immunizations.Ask about reading, bedtime routine and sleeping, and home, car and outdoor safety.
- 18 months: HepB, DTaP, IPV and HepA immunizations. Ask about describing things using simple words and toilet-learning readiness.
- 24 months: HepA and flu immunizations. Ask about sharing and getting along with others, toilet-learning readiness, the importance of reading, and playing instead of screen time.
Keeping kids on track at St. Luke’s
“This vaccine schedule has been proven safe and effective,” said Dr. Webb. “Parents should stick to it as best they can.” However, if you’ve lost track somewhere along the way, don’t worry. Just call your child’s doctor and they will be able to help you move forward.
Katie, whose children all see Dr. Webb as their primary care doctor, has seen the benefits of keeping her girls on track with their Well Child Visits. “Not only has it kept them happy and healthy as they receive all the immunizations they need,” she said, “it’s also given them a chance to build a relationship with Dr. Webb. I think that’s so important.”
To learn more about childhood immunizations and Well Child Visits at St. Luke’s, visit slhduluth.com/WellChildVisit.
This article was originally published in the 2022 Aug-Sept issue of the Woman Today.