The 2014-2015 school year will commence Wednesday, Aug. 20. For many parents this means back to school shopping for pencils, papers and the newest trends in clothing. But don’t forget to add school physicals and immunizations to that list or your child may not be able to attend. The Highlands County School Board and The Florida Department of Health in Highlands County have set criteria for initial school entry and back-to-school required vaccines.
In order to ensure students are getting those immunizations, the Florida Department of Health in Highlands County will host a Back to School Fast Track Immunization Clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Immunizations will be given at no cost at Florida Department of Health in Highlands County in Conference Room A at 7205 S. George Blvd. in Sebring. Parents must accompany children and bring along current shot record. No appointment is necessary, simply walk in. For more information call 863-382-7236.
The immunization standards adopted have been put in place to protect children and families from potentially life-threatening diseases.
Proof of required immunizations, as well as physicals, needs to be furnished before a student attends classes. Or parents can provide a medical or religious exemption. Students who have these exemptions may be asked to stay home from school in the event of a disease outbreak such as chicken pox. This can result in students falling behind and presenting families with financial hardships.
“We recommend children receive vaccines on schedule,” said Yvonne Lugo, Medical Assistant at Caladium Pediatrics in Lake Placid. “Immunizations provide protection from certain viruses. They also prevent the spread of diseases.”
The guidelines can be found on www.highlands.k12.fl.us and are as follows:
through grade 12
DTP/DTaP/DT requires four to five doses. Polio three to five doses, age depending. MMR/measles vaccine two doses are necessary. As for Hepatitis B, three doses are mandatory. Varicella immunization is used to prevent chicken pox, the initial dosage should be one dose if starting prekindergarten by 3years old, two doses for grades kindergarten through fifth and one dose for grades six through twelve. A booster for tetanus and diphtheria, called Tdap is given again upon entering seventh grade.
There may be other vaccines your pediatrician recommends such as meningitis or human papillomavirus. Check with your provider for your child’s individual needs.
Physicals are required for entrance into Highlands County schools. A physical is required for entrance into pre-K within 12 months of starting school and an updated physical for kindergarten. Physicals must be completed by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Physicals are also available at the Health Department by appointment.
“We recommend a physical every year,” explained Lugo. “It is easier to remember if physicals are scheduled near the patient’s birthday. The doctor can follow the child over the year to monitor their health.”
In addition, any child wishing to participate in sports will need a sports physical and yellow physical form completed. These forms can be obtained through the school.
Physicals and immunizations can be scheduled at your pediatrician’s office or health department.