August 1, 2015

A Back-to-School Health Checklist for Keiki & Parents

Be Healthy

It’s back-to-school season, which means pretty soon your keiki will be bringing home reading assignments, art projects and new friends. 

Unfortunately, they also may bring home things like chicken pox, measles, mumps and whooping cough. 

These diseases and many others are preventable. 

How? Immunizations

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. 

“Vaccines give your child the best protection possible against diseases,” says Dr. Grace Galiza, a pediatrician at Kauai Medical Clinic. “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 primary care 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,” Galiza adds. “Be sure to come to all scheduled visits with your child’s pediatrician. You can also call your child’s pediatrician to ask for a copy of your child’s vaccination record and to inquire if your child needs any vaccines.” 

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. 

“As an adult in close proximity to children with immune systems that are still building resilience, it’s important to also stay healthy in order to prevent transmission (of diseases),” Galiza advises. “There are certain booster vaccines that are needed as adults, 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.