Back to school to-do list: Schedule doctor visit for vaccines, sports physicals

Daniela Flores, 12, smiles as she receives an immunization at the Austin Independent School District and City of Austin Back-to-School Bash. Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2011

Yes, I know that school is not out yet for most kids. I get that. Now is the time to get your doctor appointments to get your sports physicals and make sure your vaccinations are current.

Before you go, make sure you print out the sports physical form found on your school district’s website if you have a rising seventh grader and up. You never know if your previously unathletic kid might decide to try out for basketball. Many summer camps also require it.

Also, find that pesky shot record that you shoved in some file cabinet or drawer last summer.

Kids need these vaccinations for the 2017-2018 school year:

Kindergarten-Sixth Grade

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: four or five doses depending on which version your kid got.

Polio: four or three doses

Measles, Mumps and Rubella: two doses

Hepatitis B: three doses

Varicella: two doses

Hepatitus A: two doses

Seventh graders

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: three doses of the primary series plus a booster within the last five years

Meningococcal: one dose

Seventh grade is often where parents get caught. They bring their kids to the first day of school only to have them have to sit in the cafeteria until they can produce a shot record or get their vaccines up to date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends these vaccines for the 11-year-old or 12-year-old check up:

  • HPV vaccine
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. All boys and girls should finish the HPV vaccine series before they turn 13 years old.
  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal.
  • Tdap vaccine
    Tdap vaccine provides a booster to continue protection from childhood against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
  • Flu vaccine
    Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.

That check up is also a time to make sure that all the other shots they should have had by kindergarten are up to date. If not, you’ve given yourself the summer to catch up.

There is some movement by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine to add some vaccine recommendations to the 16-year-old check up. It would like doctors to routinely give 16-year-olds a second dose of meningococcal ACWY and the meningococcal B vaccine. All good ideas before heading off to college.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. If you don’t have insurance, or if it does not cover vaccines, the CDC’s Vaccines for Children program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger, who are not insured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

There is a way to get a vaccine exemption if you deem it necessary. Go to  www.ImmunizeTexas.com under “School & Child-Care.” Please understand that when you choose that it’s not just your child you’re choosing it for. You’re choosing to not protect the many kids and adults who cannot have vaccines because of health conditions. Let’s not go back to the days of small pox.