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Back-to-School Vaccinations and Physicals

08-17-2020

Is your child up to date on their required vaccinations and wellness visits? With school season around the corner, it’s important to make sure your child gets the physicals and immunizations they need before starting classes again.

As of mid-July, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) decided it will likely operate under a hybrid model of in-person and virtual education for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. This plan will be finalized and posted to the FCPS website by August 14. In the meantime, Frederick Health is open and here to give your family the care they deserve, whether it’s keeping your child current on their vaccinations, performing a sports physical, or simply ensuring they’re healthy.

The importance of vaccines

Vaccines are essential for providing immunity before you’re exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases and infections. They help prevent infectious disease in those who receive them and protect those who come in contact with unvaccinated, infected people.

Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with your body’s natural defenses to develop immunity to disease safely. When germs like bacteria or viruses enter the body, they attack and multiply, causing an infection and leading to illness and its symptoms. The first time the body encounters these germs, it can take several days to make and use all germ-fighting tools needed to fight the infection. After the infection is gone, the immune system “remembers” how to protect the body against that specific disease.

Vaccines help your body develop immunity by imitating infections. They never cause illness, but they may cause the immune system to produce antibodies, which sometimes lead to minor symptoms such as fever or aches. Once the imitation infection is gone, the body is left with memory cells that will remember how to fight the disease in the future.

Vaccinating your child protects them in public and at school, where they are exposed to hundreds of other kids and potential diseases. While students are not required to get a flu shot, it’s highly recommended, especially this season as the COVID-19 threat looms.

COVID-19 and the flu

Fall isn’t just back-to-school season; it’s also the start of flu season. Make plans to get flu vaccines for yourself and your child in early fall, before flu season begins. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you get your flu shot by the end of October; however, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial.

The (CDC) believes it is likely that both COVID-19 and the flu will be spreading in the coming fall and winter. Getting a flu shot will not prevent against COVID-19, but it can reduce the risk of flu-related illness, hospitalization, and death. By getting the flu vaccine, you can also help conserve healthcare resources that are scarce due to COVID-19.

Flu vaccines are offered at your primary care office, at Frederick Health Urgent Care, and certain pharmacy clinics.

Required vaccinations

Students without up-to-date immunizations will not be able to attend the first day of school at FCPS unless they provide proof of an appointment for vaccines scheduled within the next 20 days. As of the 2019-2020 school year, the required student vaccinations are as follows:

  • Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine for any student who has reached 5 years-old, including pre-k students.
  • Two doses of the Varicella vaccine for entry into Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade.
  • One dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) for entry into seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade.
  • One dose of meningococcal vaccine for entry into seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade.

Sports physicals

If your child plays sports at school, they’ll need to get a physical to show they’re healthy enough to participate in athletics. FCPS requires students to submit proof of a medical examination on April 1 or after for each year of participation.

This exam should be performed by a licensed physician, certified physician assistant under the supervision of a licensed physician, or a certified nurse practitioner. Sports physicals are also available at Frederick Health Urgent Care.

Where can my child get vaccinations?

Vaccinations are available at your primary care doctor, at the Frederick County Health Department, and at certain CVS MinuteClinics. The Frederick County Health Department provides free vaccinations for uninsured or underinsured children.

Many of the vaccines your child requires are provided at regularly scheduled well-child doctor visits. If you’re not sure of which vaccines your child has received, you can look at their vaccine record or ask your healthcare provider.

If your child needs vaccinations, a physical, or a wellness visit, don’t delay. Frederick Health continues to offer safe, exceptional care for the Frederick Community and beyond. Schedule an appointment today.