If you are a parent of pre-school or school-age children, you’re probably in back-to-school mode right now. But do you realize that your kids’ most important exam occurs before they start school? I’m talking about their physical exams and immunizations. Without having the up-to-date records on file with your school district, your kids might be kept from enrolling.
School Health Requirements
As a public health measure, most states require all school children (including day care and pre-school) to submit a record of having had a physical evaluation and up-to-date immunizations. Connecticut, for example, requires all students to submit health and immunization records to their school district or program before they are permitted to enroll. In addition, Connecticut requires additional physical exams and updated immunizations before students begin the 6th or 7th grades and again before the 9th or 10th grades, depending on school district policy.
Connecticut also requires that the physical examination and immunization record be signed by a licensed physician (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), or Physician Assistant (PA).
Public health concerns are very important. Health screenings in Connecticut include:
- Physical characteristics and vital signs: height, weight, body mass index, pulse, blood pressure
- Vision evaluation with and without glasses
- Hearing evaluation
- Hemoglobin levels and ratio
- Speech facility
- Tuberculosis screening
- Allergies, including risk of anaphylaxis (e.g., whether Epi Pen is required)
- Diabetes (Type 1 or 2)
Immunizations required in Connecticut include:
- DTP/DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis [whooping cough]) OR
- Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis [whooping cough], required for 7th grade entry)
- IPV/OPV (polio)
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella; required K-12th grade)
- HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
- Hep A (Hepatitis A; pre-K and K)Hep B (Hepatitis B; required pre-K-12th grade)
- Varicella (chickenpox; 2 doses required for K and 7th grade)
- PCV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine; required for pre-K and K)
- Meningococcal (meningitis; required for 7th grade entry)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Flu (influenza; required for pre-K 24-59 months old; given annually)
Exemptions from immunization requirements may be granted for two reasons:
1. Under some circumstances, a medical exemption for specific vaccines might be indicated. Such an exemption requires submission of the appropriate form that is accompanied by a letter signed by a licensed physician.
2. An exemption may be granted for religious reasons. To claim such an exemption, the appropriate form must be filed before a student enrolls in a public or non-public school for the first time and before entering 7th grade.
Students who are granted either exemption might be excluded from school (1) until the public health official determines that a disease outbreak danger has ended, (2) until the student has completely recovered from a disease, (3) until the student has been vaccinated, or (4) the student furnishes proof of immunity to the disease.
Meeting the Requirements Easily
After reviewing the requirements, you might worry that you can’t have your child’s physical exam and immunizations completed before school starts. You’re not alone!
Many people find it cumbersome and sometimes impossible to arrange an appointment with their usual physician or pediatrician for this purpose. If you find yourself pressed for time, go to an urgent care center for the required physical exam and vaccinations. When you do, observe the following steps:
- Download, print, and fill out Part I of the appropriate form, one for each child.
- Reserve an examination time at the clinic if possible.
- Bring your health assessment form(s) with you.
- Collect and bring all immunization records for each child.
- Bring your child’s health insurance information and ID.
As a precaution, be sure to contact the health office of your child’s school or in the district office to see if they have specific forms for you to use or school-mandated procedures to follow.
If you live near one of our locations in Wethersfield or Rocky Hill, come to Kathy’s Urgent Care. You can call to reserve a time or just walk in. We are open 7 days a week.
For information about how to contact us, visit our website at www.kathysurgentcare.com.
Authored by Dr. Tom Brown