Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Magnolia Springs Pediatrics
Happy Summer, Y’all! I’m writing a bittersweet article this month because we are coming to grips with my kids growing up and heading off to college soon! (insert crying emoji here) They will grow up despite our best efforts to keep them young, so there are things we need to do to help them get ready!
Most colleges and military commitments require not only a physical, but some require blood work and a tuberculosis test, and almost all require either a booster or new immunizations. Unfortunately, there are still outbreaks of preventable illnesses like mumps or measles and new ones (i.e., 2020). The colleges will send out what they need, but since the immunizations are pretty much the same across the board, let’s talk about those.
First, be sure that all routine childhood immunizations are up to date. These include the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella), Hepatitis A and B, Haemophilus, and Polio. Some of these require boosters at certain ages, so check with your physician.
Next, let’s think about vaccines for older kids. First, there are several vaccines for bacterial meningitis. These are often required and necessary because of how dangerous they can be. There are cases every year of college-age kids who have died from this disease. Consider an annual flu shot and a Pneumococcal shot for those with underlying health conditions. The Covid vaccine is also available for older teenagers, and I highly recommend it. Consider the HPV series, which is critical for both males and females to stop the spread of the virus that can cause cervical and other cancers. It’s an amazing medical breakthrough. Some parents are scared as it is considered a sexually transmitted disease. If you think this won’t apply to your child, then you need to think back to your late teens and twenties and reconsider!
Another consideration is the transfer of healthcare. Kids with chronic illnesses and/or on regular medications should figure out a plan for their care at the new destination. Often student health can manage most conditions, but sometimes a specialist is needed. Talk with student health first for advice.
Finally, think about things you still do for your child and start letting them manage instead. Washing clothes and self-hygiene are great first starts. Let your child navigate the immunization and paperwork process and call the college themselves to help manage their care. This small step can empower kids to take control of their healthcare, which will have carryover into all aspects in the next chapter of their young lives.