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It's time to get your child's back-to-school physical, immunizations

State of Illinois changes some vaccination requirements

It hardly seems that summer has begun and already “Frozen” backpacks and 25-cent crayons are filling the stores. If you haven't already taken care of your child’s back-to-school physical and making sure they are up to date on their vaccines, it's time to take action.

Starting this year, the state of Illinois has changed some student vaccination requirements that will affect children who have not been receiving all of the recommended vaccines. The new requirements are in line with  the schedule backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Dr. Jerold Stirling, chair of Pediatrics at Loyola University Health System

School-age children or their parents must present these papers before the child can start school. Loyola pediatric and family medicine physicians already follow this schedule, but if your child has not been receiving the recommended immunizations then you should check to see that he or she is up to date before school starts.

Here is what is new this year:

  • To enter any grade level for K-12, children must show proof that they have had two doses of the rubella and mumps vaccine.
  • Children entering kindergarten, sixth grade or ninth grade for the first time must show proof they have had two doses of the varicella vaccine.
  • Children entering sixth grade must have proof of three doses of Hepatitis B. This had been required of fifth graders until this year.
  • Any child entering a day care or school program under the age of 5 must show proof of pneumococcal vaccinations.

To ward off headaches, schedule the doctor’s appointment now. School physicals and immunizations require an appointment with a primary care doctor. Find one at one of our 15 convenient locations.

    When heading to the doctor’s office, don’t forget your school or sports team’s required physical forms. If you are visiting a physician for the first time and have an updated immunization record, bring it along as well.

    “To get the most out of your visit, be sure to talk to the doctor about your child’s growth and ask to see his or her growth chart,” said Dr. Heidi Renner, primary care physician at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “This is helpful in assessing a child’s nutrition/caloric intake and helps to make sure they’re on track with a healthy diet and appropriate exercise.”

    In addition to diet she also suggests asking about:

    • Sleep
    • Allergies
    • Medications
    • Development

    “Though no one likes to get shots, vaccines are an integral part of keeping kids and our community safe. They work to safeguard children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases and protect our kids by helping prepare their bodies to fight often serious and potentially deadly diseases,” Renner said.

    Vaccines have helped to nearly eradicate many of the diseases that were leading causes of death in children only a few decades ago. Here are the main immunizations your kids need before heading off to school.

    When entering kindergarten, your child should receive the following vaccinations:

    • Measles, mumps and rubella, better known as the MMR
    • Polio
    • Diphtheria/pertussis
    • Chicken pox

    Most likely your child received these immunizations as an infant. This second round of shots boosts the immunity. So, in sixth grade your child should receive:

    • Chicken pox booster, if your child has not had two by this time
    • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)
    • Meningitis

    A meningitis booster vaccine should be given at age 16 or prior to college if not at 16 since many colleges are now requiring this vaccine. Some schools are requiring a flu shot as well so talk to your school nurse about that.

    “Yearly physicals are a great time to touch base with your child’s physician to make sure everyone is on the same page. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. We can’t help you if we don’t know a problem exists,” Renner said.

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