BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana says it is time to take your children to the doctor, especially if it’s been more than a year since their last visit.

“A checkup should definitely be on your back-to-school checklist,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who is one of Blue Cross’ medical directors. “Children grow and develop much faster than adults, and having regular visits with your family’s doctor is important. Checkups help you stay on top of any needed shots, screenings or tests your children should have.” 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies have regular checkups between birth and age two and a half. After that, children need at least one doctor’s visit a year. 

A big reason for these checkups is to make sure your child is up to date on vaccines to protect against serious illnesses like tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles and Hepatitis B. Many of these vaccines should be given when children are infants through age 6. Older children need three vaccines at ages 11-12 to protect against meningitis and HPV and to get a tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough (Tdap) booster. 

Children ages six months and older should get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine. Children 5 and older who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine should get a booster when eligible, depending on their health and risk factors.

At your child’s appointment, be sure to:

  • Make sure your child is hitting all age-appropriate milestones for growth and development
  • Ask about any concerns you or your child have related to learning abilities or participation in activities
  • Check in on your child’s mental and emotional well-being, especially if your child is going through a life or family change, has shown ongoing signs of depression, fear or anxiety, or is struggling to make or keep social connections 

“Don’t wait until the end of summer, when everyone will be trying to get this done,” Dr. Lemelle said. “Call the doctor’s office today and schedule your child’s checkup.”