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Back to School Health Requirements

Daniel McKay

It’s August, which means summer is coming to an end and it’s time to send your child back to school. There is lots to consider when preparing for the upcoming school year…registration, physical exams, school supplies, etc. Thinking about getting everything in order for that first day can be stressful, so I encourage you to get a head start on immunizations and physical examinations to avoid the chaotic back to school rush.

Depending on which grade your child is entering, he or she may need a physical exam.  Kentucky law requires students entering kindergarten or sixth grade to have a physical exam before school starts.  In addition, middle school and high school students must have a physical exam if they intend to participate in school sports.  Try to schedule your child’s physical ahead of all other activities that may be happening to wrap up the end of summer.

Kentucky also mandates every student must have an immunization certificate to enroll and attend school. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) administers the Immunization Program in Kentucky schools. These same requirements also provide exemptions from these immunizations for both medical reasons and religious beliefs. A current immunization certificate must​ be on file at the school within two weeks of the child’s enrollment.

On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential, because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages. If you are unsure of what immunizations your child needs, please ask your primary health care provider. Several immunizations depend on age, and if your child is due to receive more than one, consult your health care provider about breaking them up and scheduling some for a later date to decrease anxiety or trauma.

Getting back into the flow of a new school year can be an exciting, yet stressful time. Reduce some of that back to school stress by being prepared. Keep in mind that some medical facilities may take longer to get an appointment than others, so it’s best to get a head start on physicals and immunizations now!

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