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  • Back-to-School Wellness written on chalkboard.

    Back-to-School Wellness

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    Healthy students are ready to learn!

    Use these checklists and resources to get your child ready for school!

    Physical health

    • Schedule your annual well-child check—Improves attendance and engagement in school.
    • Practice preventative health routines:
      • Handwashing.
      • Regular visits with a pediatrician.
      • Routine vaccinations.
      • Wear helmets.

    If your child has a health need, please contact the school nurse prior to the start of school.

    Need help finding a healthcare provider or other resources for your child?

    Check out our resources to find a provider.

    Vaccines prevent disease and help keep kids in school.

    Stay up to date on all your vaccines!

     Vaccine Early ElementaryMiddle & High
     Hepatitis B ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     DTaP ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     Hib ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     Polio ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     PCV ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     MMR ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     Varicella ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
     Tdap  —  — ✔️
     Flu 🟡 🟡 🟡
     COVID-19 🟡 🟡 🟡
     Meningococcal —  — 🟡
     HPV  —  — 🟡

    ✔️ = Required 🟡 = Recommended

    What do vaccines protect against?
     Vaccine Protects against
     Hepatitis BHepatitis B can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and death.
     DTaPDiphtheria produces a thick coating in the nasal passages, throat and airways. Tetanus causes a tightening of the muscles throughout the body.Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing fits.
     HibHib can cause severe infections of both the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the bloodstream. Vaccines can protect your child from Hib.
     PolioPolio can cause a sore throat, fever, nausea and headache. Severe cases cause nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
     PCVPneumococcal can range from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections.
     MMRMeasles causes rash, fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye. Mumps causes swollen salivary glands (under the jaw), fever, headache, tiredness and muscle pain. Rubella can cause a rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes. 
     VaricellaChickenpox causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever.
     TdapDiphtheria produces a thick coating in the nasal passages, throat and airways. Tetanus causes a tightening of the muscles throughout the body.Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing fits.
     FluFlu causes fever, muscle pain, sore throat, cough, and extreme fatigue. It can cause complications like pneumonia.
     COVID-19COVID-19 can cause mild illness, like a cold, or severe illness, like pneumonia. Vaccine can prevent children from severe illness resulting in hospitalizations.Children can develop serious complications like MIS-C, a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. COVID-19 vaccine reduces the likelihood of MIS-C by 91%.
     MeningococcalMeningococcal is often severe, can be deadly, and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream.Preteens and teens are at increased risk for meningococcal.
     HPVHuman Papillomavirus can lead to cancer. Vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV.

    Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is up-to-date on all recommended vaccines for their age, including Hep A, Hep B, MMR, varicella and polio vaccines.

    Additional vaccines are recommended for children with certain risk factors.


    Questions about vaccines? Talk to your child’s pediatrician or check out reputable resources like the AAP.

    Need help finding vaccines for your child? Check out our free children’s calendar.


    Oral health

    Kids and teens with healthy teeth are better able to eat, speak and focus on learning.

    • Include flossing and brushing in your daily routine.
    • Stay up to date on dental appointments every 6 months.

    Need help finding a dentist? Check out our brochure.

    Nutrition

    Good nutrition is essential for brain development. It gives children and teens energy to learn and join in on extracurricular activities.

    • Diet should include vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and proteins.
    • Provide healthy 1–3 snacks and 3 meals to help children’s bodies grow.

    Learn more about healthy eating.

    Physical activity

    Staying active benefits both the body and brain! Activities that get children moving build motor skills that are useful to reading, writing, and math skills.

    Need help finding a healthcare provider for your child? Find medical care options.

    Sleep and rest

    When children and teens get enough sleep, they can pay attention, remember what they learn, and manage their feelings better. 

    • School-aged children should get 9–12 hours of sleep a night.
    • Teens 13–18 years old should get 8–10 hours of sleep a night.

    Students who get enough sleep may have fewer attention and behavior problems.

    Alphabet cards lined up.

    Mental and behavioral health

    When children and teens learn to recognize and share their feelings with trusted adults, they feel good about themselves. 

    • If your child or teen is struggling with their mental health, contact their pediatrician.
    • We have resources to help you talk to your child about substance use.

    Caring Relationships

    Early relationships shape children’s learning and development.

    • Responsive adults help children feel safe and valued and learn how to get along well with others.
    • Need parenting assistance? Check out our Triple P program.

    Play

    When children play, they use their imagination and creativity. They solve problems and learn to interact with others. These skills help them grow in all developmental areas.

    Family Wellness

    Services that promote family well-being help parents keep their families healthy. When families are healthy, safe, and financially secure, they can better support their children’s learning.

    Check out our Family Resource Centers for services to help you thrive.

    Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness

    Building respect for cultural practices and home languages encourages children’s growth and development by understanding who they are and where they come from.

    Elementary school kids standing in front of school.

    Back to School Wellness FAQs

    Yes! Vaccination is the most important thing you can do to protect your child’s health—not just today, but for many years to come. We no longer see many cases of certain diseases because of vaccination, like measles. You can still get sick but vaccine helps protect from serious cases and hospitalization, like flu, COVID-19, and mumps.

    Yes. Vaccines are very safe. Currently, the United States has the safest vaccine supply in its history. Our long-standing vaccine safety system ensures they are as safe as possible. Millions of children safely receive vaccines each year. Every vaccine follows the same process to get approval. Even COVID-19 vaccines went through all the steps for approval. Funding support allowed them to move through the process quickly.

    Yes. Children pick up more antigens from daily activities than they get from vaccines. Their immune systems are used to this and can handle it. During testing, they make sure vaccines are safe to give at the same time as other approved vaccines. A lot of research goes into when children should get vaccines to make sure they get them before they are at highest risk. For example, we give Tdap to pregnant people and during infancy because whooping cough can be very dangerous for small babies.

    It is impossible for most vaccines to give you the disease. This is because they use only parts or dead bacteria or virus to make vaccine. This is how we make hepatitis B, flu, and polio vaccine to name a few. COVID-19 vaccine also can’t give you the disease. It uses mRNA which teaches your cells to make a part of the virus so it can learn to defend against it. The mRNA quickly degrades in the cell leaving just the protection your body made!

    A few vaccines do use weakened versions of the virus and could cause the disease. But it is rare. If it does happen, the disease is much less severe than getting infected otherwise. MMR and varicella are 2 examples of this vaccine type.

    Some vaccine-preventable diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, remain common in the United States. Other diseases are no longer common here because of vaccines, like polio and rubella. But, the COVID-19 pandemic showed we are a global society and how quickly diseases can spread. If they don’t have all their vaccinations, children can become seriously sick with a disease and spread it through a community.

    No. Many studies and reviews continue to show no relationship between vaccines and autism. Some of these studies have lasted over a decade.

    This varies by vaccine. For example:

    • For COVID-19, shingles and flu, we recommend getting the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccine provides stronger immunity and reduces risk of severe illness after reinfection. Flu vaccine adjusts every year to account for virus changes.
    • For a vaccine like chickenpox, a confirmed case by a doctor provides immunity. Ask your doctor if you have questions about other vaccines and diseases.

    Most side effects are well documented and appear within 8 weeks. Many studies show vaccines do not cause disorders like autism, multiple sclerosis, or type 1 diabetes. COVID-19 vaccine may be newer, but mRNA vaccines are not. They are part of ongoing research for cancer, Zika, flu and rabies. The mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccine is gone from the body within 24 hours.

    Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after children and teens got COVID-19 vaccine. Although a serious issue, most myocarditis cases caused by vaccine resolve quickly with little medical intervention. Myocarditis is more common after getting a COVID-19 infection.

    Vaccines are recommended and needed throughout our lives to protect against serious diseases. Protection from some childhood vaccines wears off over time, boosters extend that protection. You need protection from more diseases as the risk of exposure increases, like for meningococcal. You need other vaccines more frequently because of viral mutations, like flu.