Besides the backpack, lunch box, notebooks and clothes, before school starts, parents also need to add childhood immunizations to their "to-do" list.
Now is the time to make sure your kids are up to date on their vaccines. Dr. Christopher Morosky, Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCONN says, "the schedules are a bit confusing." However, he adds "the good news is that most vaccine administration is well documented in the health care providers electronic records now a days." And while it's not too late to make that appointment, Dr. Morosky says the office is certainly busy, so he has tips for parents:
1) be flexible with you schedule. If the office can get you in - go!
2) Bring all of the documentation that you can, as well as any forms that the schools requires.
3) Be prepared to pay some extra money. Pediatricians often charge five dollars per signature on forms for school. Parents should understand that a lot of staff is working overtime to get all of these visits in, and this does cost the office costs. These forms are really not covered insurance billing, and it is technically going above and beyond.
4) Be on time for your visit - these are very busy office days for the pediatricians.
And while it seems early to think about, keep in mind some fairly new requirements about the flu shot. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, children age 2-4 who attend school must now receive an annual flu vaccination. The same goes for children age 6 months to 4 years who attend a licensed child care program. "Vaccines are really a public health benefit" says Dr. Morosky, "it's important for the whole public to participate for the benefit to be seen." While he supports a parents decision to "raise their child how they want to" he adds "vaccines are safe." He also goes on to say "it's important to understand that when a large portion of the population does not participate in vaccination, that does leave the population at risk for the disease."
As for the colds, coughs and bugs bound to pop up at school sometime during the year, "hand washing" is what Dr. Morosky says you can encourage your kids to do and often. He also suggests getting your kids "back on a normal sleep schedule soon" because "lack of sleep weakens the immune system." "Same for nutrition" he adds, "start getting some more fruits and vegetables in."
Dr. Morosky is also a co-chair, Program Services Committee for the March of Dimes Connecticut Chapter. The March of Dimes, which is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, is a huge supporter of the school immunization program. In fact, according to a March of Dimes CT Chapter press release:
The organization was founded in 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself a polio survivor, to combat polio. At the time, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year. The March of Dimes funded the development of the first safe and effective polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1955, followed by the oral vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in 1962. Nearly every baby born today receives a lifesaving polio vaccine.
Please check out this website for more information on these lifesaving vaccines.