What student doesn’t love picking out new school supplies, finding the perfect backpack and getting a couple shots? Okay, so maybe shots aren’t at the top of the list but they are one of the most important things you can do to make sure your children are ready for school. It’s the time of year to make sure your kids are up-to-date on their vaccinations and sports physicals.
Children entering kindergarten must either provide their school an exemption form or proof of immunization for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), IPV (polio), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and Varicella (Chickenpox).
“These are all booster shots for children ages 4-to-6,” said Dr. Josh Wilkinson, Mercy Clinic pediatrician. “Anytime you get a shot, your immune response begins to wane over time. These booster shots will make sure children are fully immune before they are exposed to the large number of kids at school.”
Students are not required to present proof of immunizations again until seventh grade. This is the age when they will need their Tdap (tetanus, pertussis) booster. This booster is especially important as health departments have seen a rise in pertussis - also known as whooping cough –cases. Children who have not received two Varicella shots yet will also need an additional chickenpox vaccintation.
This is also the age that the MCV4 (Meningococcal conjugate) vaccine may be offered. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. The MCV4 vaccine can prevent the spread of bacterial meningitis which is most common in pre-teens and adolescents. An MCV-4 shot is recommended at ages 11-to-12 and 16-to-18.
Students playing sports in school may also be required to present a sports physical signed by a physician. Doctors will check vitals and do a health screening. A couple of things they are looking for include any signs of uncontrolled asthma or the potential for any heart related issues. Health screening questions like do you get dizzy while playing? do you get easily overheated? and do you have a family history of heart disease? can help a physician determine if an athlete might be at risk for any health issues.
“Teenagers generally seem to begin falling off yearly checkups,” said Dr. Wilkinson. “Sports physicals are a great opportunity to get them checked out by their primary care physician so they can follow any changes in their vital signs or health history over time.”
So with school starting, now’s a great time to make an appointment to get your child’s back-to-school health needs covered.
Mercy Clinic primary care physicians can help you with your back-to-school health needs. To find one near you click on Find a Doctor.