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Goodbye Summer, Hello Back to School

It seems as though we were attending graduation and end of the school year parties only a few short weeks ago. While kids in many other states don’t head back to school until after Labor Day, most Tennessee schools start back in August.

Before school starts is the perfect time for the kids’ annual/sports physicals and review of required and recommended immunizations. In Tennessee, preschoolers through twelfth grade must be immunized against diphtheria, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis, rubella, mumps, hepatitis B and tetanus. Adequate protection against whooping cough for both children and adults is of particular concern this year as the CDC has reported cases have more than doubled over last year. All seventh graders are required to receive booster vaccines before attending school.


The state of Tennessee requires all students to receive a standard sports physical before participating in school sports. Sports physicals are usually an abbreviated version of an annual medical check-up and should not be considered a substitute. An annual wellness visit is recommended to monitor the following:

  • Cholesterol level
  • Complete blood count
  • Urine screening
  • Blood sugar level
  • Lead screening
  • Height, weight, and blood pressure
  • Assess child’s long-term health
  • Detect major health problems early
  • Chart overall growth and development
  • Educate and encourage positive lifestyle choices such as exercise, healthy food, and safe habits such as wearing a helmet when bicycling or skateboarding
  • Check for missed immunizations or boosters
  • Screen for dental, vision, speech, and hearing issues

As children start back to school and are usually waking up earlier, it is important that they be monitored for adequate sleep. Many youngsters and most teenagers do not get enough sleep. The result can be an impaired school performance, elevated risk of depression and other mood disorders, and a negative effect on their overall health. Children 5-10 years of age need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours.

Most children as well as adults do not always eat as healthy as they should and often need additional sources such as daily supplements for optimum health and brain function. Be aware there can be a big difference in the quality of raw ingredients and processing methods between store vitamins and those only available through a doctor’s office. Ask your health care provider which brands they recommend.

In the fall, all students and adults should consider receiving a flu vaccine to cut down on widespread flu outbreaks, as well as school and work absenteeism. The number one reason kids miss school is due to illness and the flu vaccine goes a long way in helping kids to stay healthy in the colder months.

Julie Tomsett is a published author and the office manager at GracePointe Healthcare; a direct-pay family practice and full service travel medicine clinic located in Cool Springs. For more information visit:

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