By Beth Ankeny, CNP, Family Medicine
Are you thinking about back-to-school yet? Students may not be ready, but it’s good to plan ahead for their healthcare needs. Beat the last-minute rush and schedule appointments for their annual exams (if needed), sports physicals, and vaccinations – even for college students.
Is it time for your child’s annual well-child visit? By scheduling it during the summer, you’ll know they’re healthy before the fall busyness kicks in. They also won’t miss out on school or activities to go to a doctor’s appointment. Be prepared to discuss any concerns you or your child has about:
- Eating habits
- Developmental milestones
- Mood or behavior
- Learning difficulties
- Overall physical growth
- Parenting challenges
If they are due for vaccinations, they can get them during this visit. The regular vaccines for babies, children, and teens cover about 15 preventable diseases. It is important that they are given on schedule.
Read Pediatric Preventative Care and Immunizations for more information from Dr. David Polzin.
Do you have a young athlete or two in your family? In Minnesota, sports physicals are required for students entering 7th and 10th grade prior to participating in sports. Since most fall sports begin practice in early August, get the form from your school’s athletic department and have it filled out by the doctor at your child’s appointment. Your healthcare provider may also have the form needed for your area.
When you make your child’s appointment, ask about having them vaccinated against COVID-19. If you’re unsure about them getting this vaccine, talk to your child or teen’s provider. Children ages 6 months and older can receive Pfizer’s (Pfizer-BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine. Because the Pfizer vaccination requires two shots given a few weeks apart, time them around family vacations, activities/sports, or the beginning of school.
Does your college student know how to handle simple health conditions that may arise? They can always call home or google “how to reduce a fever,” but give them a head start on independence. Send them with a simple first-aid kit that includes a thermometer and basic medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain or fever.
Many colleges and universities require a comprehensive physical exam. This includes vaccinations, such as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), tetanus, and hepatitis B—some may also require a COVID-19 vaccination. If your college student is getting a COVID-19 vaccine, it requires two shots so time it so they have the second vaccine before they move to college. TB testing, mental health screening, and vision and dental checkups are also beneficial before leaving home.
And speaking to the young adults who are soon going off to college, you may want to consider allowing a member of your family to have access to your medical records or to speak to a healthcare provider. Contact your clinic for details.
Enjoy the rest of your summer as you prepare for fall!