It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through another year. If you haven’t yet scheduled your annual wellness visit, now’s the time.
“Your annual wellness visit is an important appointment to keep,” says Dr. Kelly Mathes, a Family Medicine Physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah. “You and your care team will develop or update a plan of care for you based on your health and risk factors.”
Most insurance covers annual wellness visits as a part of regular prevention screenings. It’s a good plan to schedule your visit now to avoid a rush at the end of the year.
Your primary care provider (PCP) is an important resource, serving as a type of “home base” for your health care needs. PCPs provide, coordinate, and help you access health care. They can also provide referrals for more complex issues when necessary.
“We’re here to answer your questions and help you with your medical concerns,” Dr. Mathes says. “We provide a range of services including your annual visits, screenings, and vaccinations. We serve as your first stop for your health care needs and management.”
Choosing a PCP
Your relationship with your PCP is an important one. It’s worth it to find the right fit.
PCPs can be physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or physician assistants. Dr. Mathes is a family medicine physician, providing care for people of all ages, from newborn to older adults.
“I get to help patients at different life stages, and my aim is to empower patients with information to make the best decisions for their health,” Dr. Mathes says.
If you don’t yet have a PCP, there are lots of good ways to connect with one in your community. You can start with the ThedaCare Provider Directory. This resource allows you to search for providers by name or specialty. It also includes provider biographies as well as information on conditions treated, where the provider received their medical education, and what credentials they’ve earned.
“Finding a PCP who you feel comfortable with, and who is familiar with your health issues, is important,” Dr. Mathes says. “You’re more likely to make and keep appointments when you have a connection with your provider. This ongoing relationship offers a valuable resource.”
What an Annual Wellness Includes
During your annual wellness visit, your PCP will talk with you about your health, personal and family history, and habits. You’ll have your blood pressure, height, and weight measured. Depending on your age and health risks, this appointment might also include a blood draw.
Your PCP will ask you about any concerns you may have, as well as discussing health goals. In addition, they’ll suggest and help schedule needed screenings for health issues such as certain types of cancers.
An annual wellness visit may also include vaccines. Staying current on immunizations is an important way to protect your health and prevent more serious illness.
Vaccine recommendations depend on your health, risk factors, age, and other conditions. Common vaccines include:
- Annual flu shot: Recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Getting this vaccine can help protect you from getting a serious case of the flu.
- Pneumonia: Recommended for adults age 65 and older. Pneumonia can be life-threatening if fluid fills the air sacs in the lungs.
- Shingles: Recommended for adults over age 50. This vaccine can prevent the painful, blistering rash caused by reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox.
- Tetanus: Recommendation depends on age. Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The Tdap vaccine is an especially good idea for new parents or grandparents to prevent passing pertussis to a newborn.
- COVID-19: Recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone ages 6 months and older. See the latest CDC guidelines on vaccines and boosters.
“Staying up to date on vaccines and needed health screenings can help you stay healthier in the long run,” Dr. Mathes says. “We want people to feel comfortable with their care team and to talk about concerns they might have. We’re here to provide you with information so you can make the best, most informed decisions about your health care.”