Help your children have a healthy school year

Keeping Up With Immunizations and Annual Check-ups Will Help Ensure Scholastic Success

Backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies may be at the top of your list this month, but the medical state of your child is just as important to their success in the new school year.

“When a child goes to school, they are exposed to many more germs than at home,” said Anna Myers, M.D., Scott & White pediatrician. “They can develop illnesses more easily when they are enclosed in a room with multiple children.”

The best way to protect your little ones in a germ-filled environment is to go for a yearly check up and make sure their immunizations are up-to-date.

“Schools generally require certain immunizations for certain ages,” said Robert Burke, M.D., Scott & White pediatrician. “It’s important to get them when they are due to prevent serious childhood diseases like polio, diphtheria and chicken pox.”

Not only is it important for older children to get the vaccines they need, it is equally important for younger children and infants who are entering a child care setting.

“In the first one or two years of life the immunizations help combat illnesses that the child is most likely to contract during that time,” Dr. Burke said. “For example, the whooping cough vaccine is given to children when they are at highest risk for the disease, which is under one year of age. If the child doesn’t receive the vaccine until they are one-year-old, then they may be at risk of contracting the illness.”

Another way to make sure your child is healthy for the new school year is by scheduling a check-up or physical with your pediatrician.

“Physicals are important for several reasons,” he said. “It gives the physician an opportunity to address any health or behavior issues the child might have. It is also an opportunity to adjust any medications or refill prescriptions.”

Dr. Myers said physicals are especially important for those children who will be participating in athletics.

“It helps the doctor review any medical conditions, detect any signs of illness and make sure there’s nothing that will hinder their ability to participate.”

For a complete list of all of the immunizations your child needs, call your pediatrician or visit the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site at http://www.aap.org/immunization/ and click on Immunization Schedule.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also offers an updated version of the schedule for parents, with revisions to what is required for Kindergarteners and Seventh Graders.

If your family uses Scott & White as its provider, many of our local clinics are providing back-to-school immunizations, check-ups and physicals. Find your clinic to call and get more details.

Here are a few other ways to keep your child healthy and safe as they head back to school:

  • Personal Cleanliness
    • Wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before meals.
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth—this spreads germs.
    • Never share drinks, hats or scarves with other children.
  • Self Sufficiency
    • Make sure your child can take care of personal needs by themselves.
    • Can they dress and go to the bathroom by themselves?
  • Safety
    • Tell your child what to do if a stranger approaches them.
    • Always look both ways before crossing the street or getting out of the car in a busy area.

Additional health and safety tips courtesy of Dr. Burke.

About the author

Jessa McClure
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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Help your children have a healthy school year