Back-to-School Health Basics
August 19, 2012

Get Ready For Back-to-School With Health Basics

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

As summer is coming to a close, it´s time to think about getting ready for the start of school. For parents and guardians, it´s especially important to understand the back-to-school health basics. Luckily, the CDC has provided a number of tips for families and educators.

To begin, one of the most important facets of back-to-school preparation is vaccines. The CDC recommends that school age children, ranging from preschoolers to college students, should be up-to-date on vaccines to defend against serious diseases. Receiving all vaccines in a timely manner can help boost the long-term health of children, their friends, and their classmates.

In particular, the CDC has different recommendations for vaccines based on the age of the child. For example, the CDC recommends vaccines to protect against 14 diseases for children before the age of six years of age. Parents and guardians can consult medical professionals and also look to the CDC for more information on immunization requirements for schools.

“We won't enroll any student without an immunization record," registered nurse Candy Mac Donald, a school nurse for the Marysville Joint United School District in California, told WebMD.

The CDC reports that there are two diseases that can spread quickly through a school environment. In late July 2012, a study showed that over 20,000 cases of whooping cough had been reported around the country. Whooping cough can be deadly for young children. As well, in 2011, 222 people reported having measles, which is a high number compared to cases in the past.

Besides immunizations, it´s important for students to receive a vision screening. Vision screenings can be completed by pediatricians and are important to help children perform well in school. Some schools may also have an optometrist to check the vision with vision testing.

Apart from health checks, teachers and parents should be knowledgeable on practicing basic hygiene such as washing hands. Washing hands is particularly important when it comes down to touching objects in the classroom or working with classroom pets. For children, it is important to be wary of the spread of germs as their immune systems are still developing. Young kids are also likely to put their fingers or other items into their mouth, which may increase the likelihood of spreading germs.

To reduce illness, children can wash hands right away after going to the toilet, before eating or drinking, prior to preparing drinks or food, as well as after removing dirty clothing or shoes. In particular, adults should supervise children during hand washing to ensure that they have used running water and soap. If water and soap are not available, hand sanitizer can be used as a temporary substitute.

According to the CDC, there are important steps to follow when washing hands. Children can begin wetting their hands with clean, running water. They can then apply soap and rub their hands together to produce lather. Make sure to rub the hands for at least 20 seconds and scrub the backs of hands, between the fingers, and underneath the fingernails. Lastly, rinse hands with water and dry hands with a paper towel or air-dry them.

With these few guidelines, students of all ages will be ready to do well in the upcoming school year.