Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School Check Ups & Vaccines

Where did summer go? We are still having consistent 100-plus degree days here in Texas, but our kids start back to school next week already! In my office, however, we are well aware it's "back-to-school" time, as everyone is realizing that they've got school and sport physical forms to fill out, and our seventh graders are due for vaccines. Please call your family doctor RIGHT NOW and get your kids scheduled for an appointment!

Many people wonder why we prefer for kids to come in to fill out these forms, so I thought I'd take a moment to explain. First of all, kids GROW. Yes, I know this is not news to you, but when the last time we saw "Justin" was 6 months ago, before his growth spurt, if we use his height and weight from that visit, we'll be off by a couple inches and a dozen pounds. With the childhood obesity epidemic we are facing, these vital signs become even more important. I'd much rather talk to "Jessica" about food choices when she is a few pounds overweight, than waiting a year or more and then face telling a teenage girl she is 20 lbs overweight.

This "annual" exam is a wonderful window of opportunity for your physician to talk to your adolescent about all kinds of preventative issues- from helmets and limiting screen time, to diet & exercise, to dating & driving risks. Often kids will listen to their doctor, when their parent has preached the same speech to deaf ears. Feel free to give your family doctor a heads up if you have concerns about your child's behavioral, dietary, or peer choices so we can direct our education.

Finally, be aware that our immunization schedules are always changing. For example, we are now giving the meningitis vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine booster along with a tetanus shot for incoming 7th graders. (We used to wait till kids were headed to college to give the meningitis vaccine, and the chicken pox booster was only recently added in.) The immunization series for HPV (human papilloma virus) is also available for this age group.

BOTTOM LINE: Back to school preparation INCLUDES a doctor's visit for your child (unless she's recently had a checkup). Sign up now and bring those school & sport forms WITH you when you go!

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