Get a Healthy Start to the Academic Year With Your Child's Back-to-School Checkup

Published: August 14, 2019

With the end of summer vacation comes the start of a new school year. This can be a hectic time, as families busily shop for classroom supplies and new fall clothes. But it’s important to add one more item to your back-to-school to-do list: Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

An annual physical exam is key to your child’s health care, and back-to-school season is an ideal time. The doctor will give your child a checkup to detect any emerging health issues, usually monitoring his or her blood pressure and testing for conditions such as diabetes.

The pediatrician can also make sure that your child is up to date on vaccinations, one of the most important measures to take for illness prevention.

California law now requires all schoolchildren be immunized (talk to your doctor about the best immunization schedule). Students entering kindergarten must receive the following vaccinations:

  • Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT)—five doses (or shots) between 2 months and 6 years of age  
  • Polio—four doses between 2 months and 6 years of age
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)—two doses between 12 months and 6 years of age
  • Hepatitis B—three doses between birth and 18 months of age
  • Varicella (chickenpox)—one dose between 12 months and 6 years of age

Students entering seventh grade need to show that they have had the following vaccinations:

  • Tetanus, reduced diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap)—one dose given on or after the seventh birthday
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)—two doses given on or after the first birthday

To make sure all your bases are covered, contact your county’s health department for local information.

Your child’s checkup also offers an opportunity to talk to the pediatrician about healthy living, including proper nutrition, exercise and sleep. If your son or daughter is an athlete, the doctor can discuss beneficial exercise programs and address any overuse injuries. If you have a teenager, the doctor can talk to him or her about issues like drinking, smoking, drugs or depression.

Whatever your child’s age, schedule a checkup today to help ensure that he or she starts the school year feeling good—whether hitting the books or the basketball court.

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