Back-to-School Health Tips
For schools on the traditional calendar, the new school year is just a month away and parents of school-age children need to start thinking about their son or daughter’s health requirements. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Pediatrician Mary Evelyn O’Neil, M.D., offers these back-to-school health tips.
Parents of kindergarteners are required to make sure their child’s vaccinations are up-to-date. O’Neil reminds parents to make an appointment now with their child’s pediatrician to get their school health form filled out.
Kindergarten Health Exam Determines:
- Developmental readiness
- Physical check-up
- Eye exam
- Hearing exam
- Vaccination review/update
Most young children do not like getting shots. Knowing how to prepare them for this depends on the child’s needs. If the child works well with knowing what to expect, then prepare him for what’s ahead. If the child is anxious about shots, don’t bring up the subject first. If he asks about shots, O’Neil says don’t lie about it, that will only make it worse. It is better to say that it is up to the doctor whether or not they will receive shots that day.
Sixth graders need a vaccine booster to go back to school. O’Neil reminds parents of rising sixth graders to get their child’s TDaP booster shot. The booster provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). O’Neil says sixth graders must have this booster within the first 30 days of the start of school. Scheduling an appointment now with your healthcare provider or local health department will ensure your child gets the booster in time.
The other health requirement for students going back to school is sports physicals for students planning to participate in a school sport. O’Neil says sports physicals look for different conditions depending on the sport. Your child can get the required sport physical form from the coach of the sport they want to play.
Sport Physical Exams Determine:
- History of heart problems in the child or in the family
- History of any other medical problems including previous injuries, seizures or passing out
- Medications or allergies that coaches may need to be aware of
- Physical health including weight, height and blood pressure
- Recurring conditions (i.e. shin splints if Track, concussions if Football)
Staying healthy during the school year is a goal for every parent and their child. It can be tougher O’Neil says for kindergarteners because they are exposed to germs and viruses that they haven’t built immunity against. That’s why she stresses teaching your child proper hand washing, not sharing drinks and reminds parents not to send their child to school if their child has a fever.