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Local doctors remind families to get physical exams done before school starts

Exams are required for kindergarten and 7th grade
Posted at 6:39 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 19:39:09-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As school begins to gear up, there are certain steps parents and students must take to enroll in Nebraska Schools.

Nebraska State school law requires physical and vision exams are done for each student upon entering into school. The same is required for students transferring into Nebraska schools from out of state. Physicals are also required before seventh grade and for any student participating in school sports.

"Kindergarten visits are super fun for us we love doing them. We get to assess the child’s growth and development and we get to measure and see how big they are. We do a whole physical exam, check them from head to toe. We generally do a vision and hearing screening at those visits, those are required by the state as well," Melissa St. Germain, VP and Medical Director of Children's Physicians said. "The seventh-grade physical, it’s kind of a similar visit. Obviously a different age group. That’s more of...we talk about how puberty development is going and things like that but a lot of it’s the same. We fill out the same form for 7th grade, we fill out that vision and hearing screening for 7th grade and make sure they’re caught up for vaccines they need for 7th grade."

Immunizations against illnesses such as chickenpox, polio, whooping cough, HPV and more are also required upon entering school with a booster shot usually given before seventh grade.

"They’re going to be going into the classroom with lots of other kids and going to be in contact with lots of other illnesses. We can’t protect against all of them, we don’t have a vaccine against the common cold yet and that's one we see, but we do see how quickly those illnesses spread in that population especially in those kindergartners, so giving them the biggest ones like whooping cough pertussis vaccine and measles and chickenpox which are so contagious. If we don’t have good immunity against them," St. Germain said. "Probably 20 years we’ve been doing the same vaccine schedule so we know they are safe and they’re effective."

Doctors say although physical exams aren't required every single year, children should still get annual checkups. St. Germain said regular checkups and vaccines have slowed down a bit in the past year and a half due to COVID. She said now is a good time to get back into the doctor's office, especially since they've seen some indirect effects of COVID in kids, such as impacts on mental health.

"Rates of obesity have really jumped up as kids have been more sedentary, spending more times in front of screens, spending more time with easy access to the kitchen where snacks are and maybe not have the opportunity to play sports," St. Germain said.

St. Germain said students should also see their dentist.

Immunization and physical exam forms can be found on school district websites.

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