With homeschooling and hybrid learning disrupting classroom learning for the past 18 months, it’s easy to forget what preparing for a “normal” school year might look like. In addition to buying new clothes and stocking your child’s backpack with the right supplies, an annual physical and the proper immunizations will start your child’s new school year on a healthy foundation.

“Annual checkups allow the primary care provider to learn the medical history of your child and have the opportunity to monitor their development each year,” said Shelly Phillips, family medicine provider at Statesboro Family Practice. “Establishing baseline information makes it easier and more comprehensive when identifying any potential concerns as your child grows.” 

Shelly Phillips

Children should receive an annual checkup with their physician even if they are healthy. At a checkup, your child will receive a full physical exam including measurements such as height and weight. This is a good time for parents to discuss any developmental, emotional or social concerns with the physician. Most insurance plans cover a free annual well-child visit.

Immunizations are another important way to protect your child’s health. While COVID vaccinations are not yet available for children under the age of 12, there are numerous other vaccines parents should discuss with their child’s physician, especially for children beginning school for the first time.

Receiving the right shots at the right time will help protect your child from contracting various diseases and help prevent the spread to others. Talk with your physician to learn on what vaccinations your child should receive and at what age.

“It is essential for children to receive the appropriate immunizations at the appropriate time, especially before beginning school,” adds Phillips. “These shots will protect your child in the long run.”

Immunization Guidelines

School requirements for immunizations may differ by school district, so check with your local school district about needed vaccines for school admission.

Guidelines for well-child visits and routine immunization schedules can be found on the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

If you child or teenager is involved in sports or other physical activities, their coaches may require a sports physical before they begin to play. A sports exam is similar to an annual physical exam, with addition of the physician’s review of sports-related matters such as nutrition and injuries. A primary care provider such as a family practice or pediatrician will be able to conduct a sports physical for your child.