Summer is coming to an end and the start of a new school year is just around the corner. In addition to back-to-school shopping, parents should also schedule their child’s annual physical. Here are some commonly asked questions parents have.
Is an Annual Physical Really Necessary?
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends school-aged children receive a physical examination every year. An annual exam ensures your child is growing and developing normally. An annual exam can also detect any areas of concern and allows parents the opportunity to discuss their child’s physical and behavioral health with the pediatrician.
When Should My Child Have an Annual Physical?
While a child can have a physical at any time throughout the year, timing it with the start of school is ideal. A back-to-school physical ensures your child is healthy and their immunizations are up to date before the start of the school year. Most schools also require a qualifying clearance physical for any child who plans on participating in school-sponsored sports.
What Happens During an Annual Physical?
A nurse will record your child’s weight and height. The nurse or pediatrician will plot these measurements on a growth chart to see where your child falls on a percentile curve to ensure they are growing properly. The nurse or doctor will also check your child’s blood pressure.
Depending on your child’s age, the pediatrician may conduct a basic vision and hearing test. If the screening is indicative of a problem, the physician may recommend a more thorough examination.
During the physical examination, the pediatrician will listen to your child’s heart and lungs; palpate their abdomen; check their limbs, skin and reflexes; and examine their eyes, ears, nose, and throat. The pediatrician may also order a blood test so the laboratory can check for things such as anemia or elevated cholesterol.
Your child may also receive needed vaccinations during the annual physical and your pediatrician will review immunizations with the entire family. Lastly, the pediatrician will ask parents if they have any concerns about any aspect of their child’s health, including mental health and social concerns.
What Immunizations Does My Child Need?
Minnesota requires children who are entering kindergarten to have vaccinations protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); polio; measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); varicella (chickenpox); and Hepatitis B, unless there is a valid exemption on file with the school.
At age 11-12, children should receive a booster for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) as well as initial doses of meningococcal and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines. Additional doses of these vaccines are given at subsequent annual physicals. Annual influenza vaccine is also recommended each fall.
To schedule your child’s annual back-to-school physical, discuss their current vaccination status, or address any other concerns you may have, contact us today.