Make sure your child is ready – and healthy – when classes start

  • Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Getting prepped for back to school means more than buying pencils and book bags. It also means keeping your children healthy and ready to learn.
From preschoolers to teenagers, each student should have an annual well-visit at a pediatric or family medicine practice. If your child is overdue, try to make an appointment for these last days of summer or otherwise as soon as possible. “It’s a good time to remember, let’s get our checkup,” says Dr. Kristen Hood Watson with Trident Family Health.
At Trident Family Health, an annual exam includes a vision and hearing check to ensure children can hear the teacher, read materials and see the whiteboard.  You also want your children to be up to date on their immunizations, and while that may seem like something for younger kids, there are important shots for teens and tweens, too.
For example, health officials now recommend that 11- and 12-year olds receive a meningococcal conjugate vaccine and later have a booster shot at or after age 16, when they enter the highest risk period for meningococcal infection. Otherwise, they might be vulnerable to developing meningitis or sepsis, which can lead to disabilities and even death. “It used to be a vaccine associated with teenagers going to college, but it's actually given at a younger age,” says Dr. Watson.
Dr. Watson recommends that you keep a current list of your child’s immunization records, which should be available from your child’s primary care provider. That way you will be prepared should your school or day care need a copy. If you are behind on scheduled vaccinations, she says, don’t think it’s too late. “We have a way of catching them back up on their immunizations.” And once the fall starts, she reminds that it is important for everyone to get a flu shot. “Children have a greater exposure when they are in a school with hundreds of kids.”
For children who take daily medications or have chronic conditions, the new school year is an important time to check in with the school nurse and the child’s new teacher to make sure an action plan is in place and that they have all the information and supplies that they need.  In the case of chronic conditions, Dr. Watson says, she will often write back-up prescriptions, for example, an extra inhaler for someone who has asthma.  “Children spend so much of their time at school. It’s important that that they have the same rescue medications there as well.
To schedule an appointment with Trident Family Health, please call 843-572-8277.
Callout: “Children have a greater exposure when they are in a school with hundreds of kids.”
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- Dr. Kristen Hood Watson with Trident Family Health

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