The start of the new school year is a great time for parents to make sure their child is up to date with all of their scheduled vaccinations. Many schools require them in order for kids to come to class.

Within the first four years of life, children need a host of vaccinations to prevent potentially devastating diseases. Some of the common vaccinations are for diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. Any booster shots are important too, designed specifically to drive lifelong immunity.

Gregory Germain, MD, Associate Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, said any gap or delay in vaccines can leave children open to risk. That’s why it’s so important for parents to stay up to date on their child’s vaccinations, even though schools and other activities may be closed for now, due to COVID-19.

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“Every time you leave your house and break quarantine, you’re taking a risk,” Dr. Germain said. “I would put your child’s pediatric visit right up there with a high value, low risk departure from quarantine. It may be one of the most important reasons that you leave your house.”

For parents nervous about bringing their child in to the doctor’s office, Dr. Germain said they’re following strict CDC guidelines to protect families. All of the providers, patients and parents must wear a mask. They’re not using waiting rooms to ensure social distancing, parents won’t have to touch any clip boards or sign-in sheets and rooms are sanitized after every patient.

“Walking in to your pediatrician’s office, you might not recognize it, even though you’ve been there many times before,” Dr. Germain said.

He also stressed the importance of a yearly check-up. Even if a child is up to date with their vaccinations, they still need to see their pediatrician.