Back to School: Planning for a Healthy Year

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As the days draw near the start of the school year, the time to schedule yearly physical exams and vaccinations has arrived.  The yearly exam for children beginning kindergarten serves as a more formal screen, as their physician administers developmental checks to ensure the child is ready to begin school on a physical, emotional and academic level.  Yearly exams are also important for older children, to clear them for sports participation, as well as check for any developing health conditions, such as scoliosis or vision problems.

Most schools require students to get the proper vaccinations before the start of the school year, although different vaccines are required depending on the age of your child. Your primary care physician will keep track of your child’s vaccinations, but it is recommended that your child receive:

  • Age 0-2: Rotavirus, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), Pneumococcal conjugate5 (PCV13), Polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae type B), Varicella (VAR) and Hepatitis A and B
  • Age 4-5: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) , Polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Varicella (VAR)
  • Age 11-12: a pertussis booster (known as the TDaP vaccine), their first meningococcal vaccination, and the HPV vaccine to protect against the Human Papillomavirus (which can cause cervical cancer in women)
  • Age 16-18: A second meningococcal vaccination and Hepatitis A vaccination, if they haven’t received it already.

Physicians also recommend that individuals receive a flu shot every year.

Yearly physical exams help your physician establish a baseline of health and monitor the development of your child. During the physical exam, your physician will screen for developing illnesses, obesity, major genetic illnesses and social/behavioral health issues such as bullying, anxiety, and depression. Your physician may discuss healthy eating habits, physical activity levels, and puberty as your child gets older. Yearly exams and vaccinations not only protect the health of your child, but also the health of others around them.  Be sure to schedule an appointment with your child’s physician to help ensure a safe, enjoyable and educational school year. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of pediatricians, family medicine specialists and other related healthcare professionals dedicated to making sure children in the community are healthy and ready to start the school year.

Physician Background:

Dr. Joshua Dettinger is a family medicine specialist at Western Rockingham Family Medicine and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. He received a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Brigham Young University. Dr. Dettinger completed medical school at Ross University School of Medicine and his residency at the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program.