A Back-to-School Health Checklist for Keiki & Parents
It's back-to-school season, which means pretty soon your keiki will be bringing home reading assignments, art projects and new friends.
They also may bring home things like chicken pox, measles, mumps and whooping cough.
Thankfully, these diseases and many others are preventable.
Immunizations, or vaccines, expose the immune system to killed or weakened versions of harmful germs, allowing the body's natural defenses to build up protection before disease-causing bacteria or viruses can invade.
"Immunizations are lifesaving preventive measures to protect a child from dangerous diseases that could last an entire lifetime," says Dr. Erika Noel, a pediatrician at Kauai Medical Clinic in Lihue. "There have been many diseases – polio, tetanus, measles, hepatitis, whooping cough – that once caused serious harm, even death, but have now been eradicated with the introduction of vaccines. We are fortunate to live in a time of advanced medicine so that our kids can lead healthy lives."
Before your little one heads back to class, schedule a checkup with your child's pediatrician or family medicine physician to ensure his or her vaccines are up to date.
"School is a prime gathering place for students to come together and spread germs and viruses. Having your child vaccinated will not only keep them healthy, but will also keep other kids healthy, too," Noel adds. "You can schedule your child’s physical exam months in advance, and after the age of 3, there are annual exams that are recommended (this can be more frequent for children younger than 3 years of age). If you don’t believe that your child has been seen by a pediatrician or a health care provider within the last year, it’s time to make an appointment."
And remember, many healthy adults need shots, too!
By getting vaccinated, not only are you protecting yourself against dangerous diseases, but you're also ensuring immunity throughout your home and neighborhood. This can protect infants, older adults and others who may be at higher risk of complications from vaccine-preventable diseases like the flu.
"Parents should always set a good example for their children, and we should all make sure we are all healthy to take care of our future generation," Noel advises. "There are certain booster vaccines that adults need, like the pertussis vaccine to protect against whooping cough and the annual flu vaccine. In babies, children, the elderly and the immune-compromised, these diseases can cause significant respiratory distress and be life-threatening."
Patients seen at Kauai Medical Clinic can participate in MyChart® by Hawaii Pacific Health for online access to their immunization records as well as their children’s records, and to receive reminders of when their next vaccinations are due. Parents can also quickly send a message to their child's pediatrician regarding any questions or concerns they may have.
"If there are any hesitations about having your child vaccinated, talk to us," Noel says. "We would love to have a dialogue and learn from one another."
Published on: August 22, 2023