Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's not too early to get your child's school physical

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:

  • Sleep
  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Development

“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
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria/pertussis
  • 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)
  • Meningitis

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.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.