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Five Back-To-School Health Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Across the country, parents are preparing their students — and themselves — for a back-to-school season unlike any we’ve had before. Whether your children will be learning remotely at home or returning to in-classroom instruction, keeping them healthy is going to require more than the usual nutritious snacks and a regular bedtime.

The coronavirus pandemic can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there’s actually a lot you can do to keep your family healthy as summer vacation draws to a close and the new school year begins. In combination with the protective measures taken by your school and public health agencies, together, we can keep kids safe while helping their young minds grow. Follow these back-to-school health tips to learn how to do just that!

1. Teach your children to wear their masks

According to the CDC, cloth face masks help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in settings where social distancing is challenging. Start practicing and encouraging good mask-wearing habits at home before school starts. If your children are returning to the classroom, it will help protect them, their fellow students, and their teachers and staff. If they’re doing virtual learning from home, masks are still important anytime your kids go out in public.

2. Help your children find healthy ways to manage stress

This school year will be unlike any your children have experienced before. Rapid change and unfamiliar situations can be stressful for anyone, and children are often less equipped to manage that stress. They may also be discouraged that they cannot spend time with friends after school or participate in their favorite activities, all of which previously helped them reduce their stress.

Help your kids find new ways to lower their stress, such as exploring new hobbies, coordinating video calls with their friends, indulging in some video games, and more. Most importantly, be sure to let your child know that feeling some day-to-day stress is normal, but that they should talk with you anytime they feel overwhelmed and want some help.

3. Encourage your children to stay active

Especially if your child is participating in classes online, it’s important that they take frequent breaks to get up, move around and stretch. ​According to the Baltimore Business Journal, “frequent stretching keeps a proper blood and nutrient supply to the working muscles and tissues throughout the workday [schoolday] and prevents fatigue and discomfort … while reducing stress and increasing energy.”                         

Students should consider taking breaks from sitting ​every 30 minutes​ – whether it be walking around the block or strolling to the kitchen – ​according to a study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center, University of Michigan, and Columbia Medical Center.

4. Practice washing hands together

Washing hands is an important way to help prevent the spread of disease even in normal times.  During this pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day. ​Check out the CDC’s guidelines for handwashing, then practice with them at home. You can even make a game of it by singing a song together as you wash. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of your favorite song.

5. Continue taking your children to their doctor

While going anywhere outside your home during this pandemic can feel risky, doctors’ offices are one of the safest places you can go to receive needed care and treatment. It’s far riskier to avoid or delay check-ups and medical care, possibly leaving serious health issues undetected or untreated.

Most doctors’ offices — including all of YourTown Health’s community health centers — are taking extraordinary precautions to ensure the health and safety of their patients and staff. So, keep scheduling those annual well-check visits for your children, and reach out to your doctor anytime your children show signs of needing medical attention.

If you would like to speak to our team further about back-to-school health tips or schedule a well-check visit, click here to contact the experts at YourTown Health or call 770-463-4644.

Back To School Vaccines

There has been some debate about vaccines lately, ranging from if you need them to what the law says. Here’s what your doctors at YourTown Health want you to know!

There has been some debate about vaccines lately, ranging from if you need them to what the law says. However, the viewpoints we tend to hear are from our neighbors, celebrities and anonymous voices on social media – people who may or may not have access to the latest news or credible resources. This is what your family doctor wants you to know about vaccines from a medical perspective.

1.Georgia law requires children to be immunized. Children are only exempt if a parent or guardian submits a written statement from a licensed physician. Only you and your doctor can determine that together. 

2. Good hygiene can’t replace the need for vaccines. Access to great medical care, less crowded living conditions and better nutrition are all helpful, but only vaccines can reduce the spread of disease. You may wonder why, if you’re living in Georgia, you should vaccinate your child against polio, if it’s only prevalent in Pakistan. However, as people travel, diseases can be reimported back in the States. For instance, in 2014, there was an outbreak of measles at Disneyland. The outbreak quickly grew into 147 confirmed cases over seven states, Mexico and Canada. 

3. Vaccines prevent the spread of dangerous and contagious diseases. They help to build up antibodies against the disease so you can avoid getting it – and spreading it. You can protect the people around you, including infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems (such as transplant recipients and those with cancer) who cannot get vaccinated. 

4. Sometimes you may also need a booster shot, or a second vaccine, to get 100% protection.

5.One good example to show how vaccines work: Smallpox used to be a deadly illness. It is estimated to have killed up to 500 million people worldwide in the 20th century. Since a vaccine was discovered, the disease has been eradicated.  We don’t even need to be vaccinated for smallpox anymore. According to the CDC, similar vaccines have prevented 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths in children born between 1994 and 2013. 

6. What vaccines will you need for school? The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, among other organizations, all recommend a schedule of vaccines to cover 14 diseases for children. These vaccines all undergo long and careful review by scientists and the federal government before they are approved for public use. Understandably, the schedule can still be confusing to parents. Studies show that almost one-fourth of school kids may get behind on the recommended vaccines.

Before entering kindergarten, your child must show proof of the following shots:

• Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT); polio; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); Hepatitis B; Chickenpox.

Before entering 7th grade, your child must show proof of the following shots:

• Tetanus, reduced Diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap); Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR).

Out-of-state students must show proof of chickenpox immunization.

Check out the state of Georgia’s handy guide at www.nvic.org

7. We’re here to answer all of your questions. It’s your doctor’s responsibility to make sure you have accurate information about the safety and efficiency of vaccines. So feel free to ask questions. Here are some topics you may want to consider talking about…

  • Ask your doctor’s office if it participates in a national online registry that will track your family’s immunization records. This can help if you recently moved, or will move out of the area someday.
  • Ask about notifications to help alert you when a family member is due for a vaccine.
  • What will happen if a child is behind or doesn’t get all of the recommended doses? Will she still be able to go to school?
  • What vaccinations do I need as an adult?

For more information, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a resource guide for parents on their website that you can access here.

8. Don’t let cost be a barrier. YourTown Health will work with you to find coverage, either through insurance of the national Vaccines for Children program. Your friendly staff at YourTown Health is always available to help with advice, care and the vaccines you need. Schedule an appointment at one of our seven clinics in the area.

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