Healthy Living

Why Your Child Needs a School Physical

As you pull together a list of things to do to get ready for back to school, remember to include a school physical. Don’t wait until the last minute to make an appointment – spots fill up fast in the weeks leading up to the new school year.

Just like adults need to see a primary care provider for an annual checkup, kids and teens also need to see a pediatrician or family medicine doctor for a yearly visit. These appointments are important to help build a medical history, screen for medical and emotional health conditions, manage ongoing chronic conditions and update and refill medications. They are also a great time to check on growth and development and identify where patients might need help or further education.

School physicals usually start with conversation about the patient’s health. It’s a time to discuss current health issues or concerns that the parent or child may have. Your doctor will then conduct a physical exam. This may include measuring your child’s height, weight, blood pressure and heart rate, as well as examining the eyes, nose, lymph nodes and other areas of the body. If your child is due for vaccines, they will be provided at the end of the visit. Your provider will also complete and sign school and athletic forms.

If any new problems are diagnosed, a follow-up visit may be scheduled for a more in-depth discussion.

For the appointment, parents or guardians of new patients need to make sure they bring medical and vaccine records or provide them ahead of the visit. Don’t assume your provider will be able to see records from other medical offices or facilities. Without a vaccine or medical record, your doctor won’t be able to sign off on any forms.

Although school physicals are recommended for kids of all ages, they are especially important for those entering kindergarten, 6th grade, 12th grade and college. That’s because of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine schedule for kids. The schedule includes:

  • Kindergarten: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and chicken pox
  • 6th grade: Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough), meningitis and HPV (human papilloma virus)
  • 12th grade: Booster dose of meningitis
  • College: Meningitis Type B

Separate from the CDC vaccine schedule, an annual flu shot in the fall and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are recommended for all kids and teens.

NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health helps kids stay healthy year-round. The number one way we do this is through vaccinations – they help reduce the frequency of preventable illnesses. In addition to seeing kids for school physicals, we also help them when they are sick. Our pediatricians and family medicine physicians work together to help manage pediatric medical conditions and help kids thrive in life.

To learn more about pediatric care or schedule a school physical, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.