Back-to-School Guide

Your Back-to-School Healthy Checklist

Keep kids healthy all year long by checking off these doctors' visits and other essential to-dos.

children on school bus

1. Are your kids up to date on their vaccines?
 Each year: They should get the flu vaccine, either as an injection or in nasal mist form. It’s usually available as early as September or October.
• Between ages 4 and 6: Boosters for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis [whooping cough]), IPV (polio), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella (chicken pox).
• Ages 11 and 12: Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster; HPV (human papillomavirus; three-shot series given during a six-month period); first dose of MCV4 (meningococcal disease).
• Age 16: MCV4 booster.

2. Are they up to date on their checkups?
• An annual well-child doctor’s visit, which includes vision and hearing screenings and, after age 11, a screening for depression.
• Dental cleaning and exam every six months.
• Cholesterol screening between ages 9 and 11 and again between 17 and 21, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
• Screening for HIV at age 15.
• Sports physical (usually required at the high school level)

3. Does the school have current medical information?
If your child has developed new allergies, asthma or any other medical condition, make sure that information is given to the school nurse before the start of the year.

4. Does the school have all necessary medications?
You’ll need a doctor’s order for each one—whether it’s taken daily or just for emergencies, such as an EpiPen—detailing clear instructions on administration for the nurse. All medicines must be stored in the original pharmacy container and clearly marked with your child’s name.

5. Is your emergency contact information correct?
If the school has to use it, you don’t want someone trying to call you at a work number from three jobs ago.

Sources: Neal D. Hoffman, MD, medical director of the Montefiore School Health Program in Bronx, N.Y.; Rita Patel, MD, professor of pediatrics at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.