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It’s That Time of Year: Getting Ready for School Physicals and Vaccinations

school physical

The Department of Pediatrics wants to remind you of the importance of back-to-school and sports physicals. 

When making your back-to-school to-do lists, be sure to add a physical exam at the top, says Dr. Susan Santos. Whether your son or daughter plays sports or not, beginning the year with a visit to the pediatrician can help your child stay healthy.

A yearly physical is important for children and teens for many reasons, including:

  • It gives parents an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns they may have with the physician.
  • Parents can review any chronic medical issues, medications, and make sure their child’s vaccination record is current.
  • The doctor can evaluate a child’s growth, discuss proper nutrition and sleep habits.
  • The doctor and parents can discuss issues about school -learning difficulties, what help school is giving them.
  • For teenagers, many doctors see the annual school physical as opportunity to talk about physical and social issues from puberty, sex and drugs, to how to handle balancing homework and extracurricular activities.

Here are some tips for preparing for annual physicals:

  • Yearly physicals are recommended after age 2, especially important until age 5 and also into the teen years. (Prior to 2 year of age, more frequent visits are necessary.)
  • A helpful tool for parents is to
    rite down questions prior to the appointment so you don’t forget what you wanted to ask or bring to the physician’s attention.
  • Parents should ask the physician about any concerns they may have related to child’s physical, mental and developmental well being.
  • Some common and important questions to ask relate to development and behavior as well as nutrition and sleep.

Sports Physicals
Many kids who play fall sports may need a sports physical each summer. These visits give doctors an opportunity to provide wellness guidance and advice and to help answer any questions kids and their parents may have.

In a sports physical, the doctor will focus on discussing issues related to sports, such as possible cardiac issues, shortness of breath with exercise, chest pain, and recent injuries.  Identifying a history of concussions is especially important if involved in contact sports.

Sports physicals are best done by the primary physician in the context of the yearly exam, rather than at school or urgent center setting.


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