Doctors stress importance of annual wellness exam before heading back to school

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:43 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Here at your hometown station, we want to help make sure your kids are happy and healthy as they head back to school this year.

“The yearly time for us to sit down with the parent, with the child… and get a sense of how they’ve been doing over the past year… just really try to get a sense of what their needs may be,” said Dr. Christopher Pierce, Chief of Pediatrics at Carilion Children’s.

At those checkups, it can be a good time for school age children to get the vaccines they need at different ages.

“The big change that’s come up this year is they’re requiring the Hepatitis A vaccine going into school age. Now that’s actually interesting because, you know, it’s a requirement although we’ve been really recommending that for probably close to 18 years or more,” said Pierce.

Doctors also recommend kids get the COVID vaccine or at least speak with your doctor about it if you have concerns.

“The safety that we’ve seen in the adult world and looking at the studies that brought it in to the pediatric world really put the risk of the vaccine really extremely, extremely low,” said Pierce.

If your child or teenager needs to undergo a sports physical, doctors say there is a very small number of children or teens who could need some extra screening because of COVID.

“If you’re having exertional chest pain, palpitations, dizziness or fainting with activity, shortness of breath with activity or just worsening exercise tolerance overall, that’s going to prompt that more intensive evaluation on the part of the primary care provider. The recommendations by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) are to maybe do that exam, then do a screening, an electrocardiogram or EKG, which is the stickers on the chest,” said Dr. Steven Herold, Pediatric Cardiology at Carilion Clinic.

And doctors say don’t forget the flu vaccine in the fall.

“Last year, we saw really a big ramp up in the early fall. The only positive thing of the omicron variant was that it had everybody back off and dropped the flu back down, but we’re due for a bumper crop of flu, so get out there September on and get your flu vaccine,” said Pierce.

For a link to information about back to school vaccination clinics and other resources click here.

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