HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It's only the beginning of July but "back-to-school" time will be here before you know it, and there are a few things health officials recommend families do to prepare before their kids head back to the classroom. One of them? Make sure your student's vaccinations are up-to-date.
Before children enter kindergarten, they are required to get certain vaccinations to attend school. More are needed when they're 11 years old.
Wes Stubblefield, the District Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, says summertime is a good time for families to check in on vaccinations. "It's a good time to get caught up on any vaccines that they may have missed out on or maybe due for, in addition to other things as well."
And although the covid-19 vaccine is not a requirement, Stubblefield recommends it. "It can reduce out of school time and in potentially those rare cases children get very very sick with covid. We know that the vaccine is safe and effective especially against those severe cases."
He encourages school districts to regularly check CDC maps for the number of covid cases in the area to ensure there's safety for students and staff.
And for families? He says, "It's very important that if your kids are sick, that you don't send them to school and especially if they are running a fever. It's best to either do your home-based tests or take them in and have them tested and make sure they don't have something."
Stubblefield says this is also a good time for wellness checks. These checks can go beyond a physical examination, ranging anywhere from discussing mental health to diet patterns. "There's so much information and so much that happens in these visits and it's always good to make that regular visit with your child's healthcare provider and just sort of create that relationship and that trust that happens between parents and that person and also between that person and their kids."