Keeping kids healthy as they head back to school

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Kids are heading back to school, and doctors are reminding parents how to keep kids healthy this year.

Doctors say, make sure childrens’ vaccines are up to date as different grades have different requirements.

Click here for the complete list of required vaccinations for each age group.

Click here for the complete list of required vaccinations for the 2017-18 school year.

They say the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible so the community has the most protection, though medical and religious exemptions may prevent vaccinations in some children.

“These vaccines are designed to prevent against diseases that are really bad and have really bad consequences, so severe illnesses, even death,” said Dr. Amanda Beach, a pediatrician at St. Vincent Hospital. “As you booster the young immune system, you just get less risk of getting those diseases.”

Doctors also say that parents should make eye exams an annual tradition.

The American Optometric Association says simple eye screenings in school often miss eye or overall health issues.

They say from ages 6 – 18, vision can change causing undiagnosed vision problems that can lead to behavioral problems in the classroom.

Experts say parents should look for indicators of vision problems, like kids who hold books close to their face, have a short attention span or headaches.

They also say kids should take breaks from digital devices every 20 minutes.

And make sure glasses or sunglasses, even for outdoor sports, have UV protection.

Inside the school, doctors say, classrooms are full of germs with so many kids in shared spaces.

Doctors say the biggest reminder for kids is to wash their hands often!

Also, parents should remind kids when it’s OK not to share, like with food, drink, hats, gloves, ear buds and lip balm.

And, experts say water fountains and cafeteria trays are dirty, so kids should wash their hands after touching those.

“It’s just not on kids’ radars as something that they need to do,” said Dr. Beach. “I think some kids just forget the normal part where hand washing, they might not have done it all day.”

Parents are reminded to keep backpacks and lunchboxes clean.

Doctors also tell parents, before kids head back to school, make sure kids know how to correctly wash their hands: wash for at least 20 seconds and clean between fingers and around nails.