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Getting VA Kids Checked Out Before They Go Back to School

August 20, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - Back-to-school time for kids also means greater exposure to more germs and illnesses. So, Community Health Centers across the state are urging parents to get kids checked out and immunized. Adele Young, a pediatric nurse practitioner, knows this time of year can be hectic for families. However, she says, it's important to bring the kids in for their medical check-ups and, for parents who choose to vaccinate kids, their shots.

"There is a series of immunizations required for school entry — and again, we were asking, for entry into sixth grade, for those children to be immunized with the T-Dap. But no matter what grade you're going into, you should make sure that those shots are up-to-date."

Young says the T-Dap shot protects against three different illnesses — tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as "whooping cough" — all of which are caused by bacteria. She says it is also a good time to pass along some old-fashioned advice to kids, about staying safe, healthy and productive.

"Making sure they're getting enough sleep; getting good diets that will keep them healthy; teaching them to wash their hands — all those practical things."

The advice includes safety tips, too, such as making sure younger children know what to do if they get separated or lost during an outing and that they know their home address and telephone numbers.

Several of Virginia's Community Health Centers have set aside time specifically for back-to-school physicals and sports check-ups, and Young says the services are available to families regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA