Whether your child is going off to college for the first time or just entering kindergarten, schools seem to be incubators for illness.
Before the new school year starts, and even when it does, here are a few things you should know about keeping your child safe and healthy.
Before School Starts:
Students planning to live on campus will likely need up-to-date immunizations, including the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine. Check with a primary care doctor and the school to determine which vaccines are needed.
Students who smoke or have a history of asthma, diabetes, liver disease or immune suppression also should consider a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine. Physicians may recommend the HPV vaccine for females and males up to age 26.
Flu vaccine is recommended for children and adults, especially college students living in dorms. The flu vaccine typically becomes available in around September or October.
Before entering school, many jurisdictions require proof of a preventative health-care examination, an eye examination and a dental screening conducted no more than a year before school begins. Also, check with your primary care doctor for required vaccines. Children will need proof of vaccination before entering school.
A preventative health-care examination is required within one year of entry into the sixth grade, along with another series of vaccinations.
Students planning to participate in sports should schedule a sports physical.
An annual physical can help identify and track potential health concerns.
Once School Starts:
Encourage children of all ages to wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom. Provide anti-bacterial soap for when kids can’t access soap and water.
Within reason, encourage your child not to share cups and utensils and to clean their hands after using communal tools, such as scissors.
Not contributing to the germy environment is important, so encourage others to cover their cough.
If your child has a temperature of more than 100 degrees, keep him or her home. This will not only help your child recover more quickly but also keep other kids from getting sick, which will cycle back to you. Kids need to be fever-free for 24 hours without medication before they return to school.
Help your students get enough sleep, eat a proper diet and make sure they are getting vitamin supplements as needed. This will help maintain their overall health.
If possible, keep the sick person in your house away from others while he or she is contagious, which can be a total of five to seven days before and after there are symptoms.
Just like at school, the sick person should cover his or her mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
Sources: KentuckyOne Health, Lexington Fayette-County HealthDepartment, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.