MAYWOOD, Ill. (July 23, 2014) – It hardly seems that summer has begun and already “Frozen” backpacks and 25-cent crayons are filling the stores. Though summer fun will last a few more weeks, it’s not too early to start thinking about your child’s back-to-school physicals and making sure they are up to date on their vaccines.
“August is one of our busiest months. Doctors’ offices are jam-packed with last-minute appointments, so get a jump-start on it now,” said Dr. Heidi Renner, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
When heading to the doctor’s office, don’t forget your school’s required physical forms. Also, if you have an updated immunization record, bring it along as well.
“To get the most out of your visit, be sure to talk to the doctor about your child’s growth and ask to see his or her growth chart. This is helpful in assessing a child’s nutrition/caloric intake and helps to make sure they’re on track with a healthy diet and appropriate exercise,” Renner said.
In addition to diet she also suggests asking about:
“Though no one likes to get shots, vaccines are an integral part of keeping kids and our community safe. They work to safeguard children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases and protect our kids by helping prepare their bodies to fight often serious and potentially deadly diseases,” Renner said.
Vaccines have helped to nearly eradicate many of the diseases that were leading causes of death in children only a few decades ago. Here are the main immunizations your kids need before heading off to school.
When entering kindergarten, your child should receive the following vaccinations:
- Measles, mumps and rubella, better known as the MMR
- Chicken pox
Most likely your child received these immunizations as an infant. This second round of shots boosts the immunity. So, in sixth grade your child should receive:
- Chicken pox booster, if your child has not had two by this time
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)
A meningitis booster vaccine should be given at age 16 or prior to college if not at 16 since many colleges are now requiring this vaccine. Some schools are requiring a flu shot as well so talk to your school nurse about that.
“Yearly physicals are a great time to touch base with your child’s physician to make sure everyone is on the same page. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. We can’t help you if we don’t know a problem exists,” Renner said.