Back to school health check: Cincinnati Hamilton County offer reminders and resources

CINCINNATI - As the 2014-2015 school year begins, health care employees aren’t the only people preparing to deal with illnesses. Schools around the Tri-State are gearing up for new and returning students by asking parents to take preventive health measures before school starts. Many schools even offer resources to make things easier.

“Cincinnati Public (School District) has been working to make sure children have all the resources they need,” said Marilyn Crumpton, director of school and adolescent health for Cincinnati Health Department.

Which vaccinations should kids get?

One way parents can help prevent the spread of illnesses in schools is to make sure their kids are up to date on their immunizations. Parents should be sure their children have been vaccinated for mumps and measles, as Ohio has had a problem with both recently.

“There was a larger outbreak in Ohio this year,” said Christy Cauley, spokeswoman for Hamilton County Public Health.

In addition to mumps and measles, children should be immunized for rubella and pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.

Crumpton recommends all students get a TDAP vaccination, which immunizes for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

“We want to make sure that all kids that come into school aren’t at risk for either (measles or pertussis) because they can spread quickly through a school,” she said.

Where to get immunizations

Parents should get their children vaccinated through by their pediatricians. However, if they do not have a pediatrician or cannot get an appointment before school starts, a number of health clinics offer immunizations.

Hamilton County Public Health offers vaccines for children who reside in Hamilton County and are:

  • Receiving or eligible for Medicaid
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or an Alaskan Native
  • Underinsured

Vaccinations are available at the Hamilton County Public Health Tuberculosis Clinic on McMillan Street and the second Monday of every month at the Houston Early Learning Center in Colerain Township.

For hours of operation or to make an appointment, call (513) 946-7882.

The Cincinnati Public School District works with health partners to offer school-based health centers at 21 of the district's 55 schools. Students enrolled in schools with health centers can get immunizations there.

Flu vaccinations also will be available thorough Hamilton County Public Health and are expected to be offered at all Cincinnati Public Schools in September.

What else to watch for

“One virus that’s going around a lot, especially among preschool-age kids is hand, foot and mouth disease,” Cauley said.

School nurses can typically recognize the symptoms, which include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth and a skin rash.

According to Cauley, it also is still peak season for gastrointestinal and recreational water illnesses.

“You want to remind your kids to wash their hands as often as possible because it‘s the best defense against disease,” she said.

Preparing for school

In addition to washing hands, parents should make sure their children are getting an adequate amount of sleep.

“Kids are not at their top performance for academics when they’re not getting enough sleep,” Crumpton said.

If a child has a chronic illness, such as asthma or a food allergy, parents should provide his or her school with the appropriate paperwork from the child’s doctor to ensure treatment is available at the school.

When preparing to start school, some children may also need to get a physical, especially if they are involved in sports.

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In some cases, schools may require parents to present their children’s birth certificates as part of their enrollment and registration process. Residents can get their children’s birth certificates through Hamilton County Public Health.

Where to get information

If parents have concerns about a child’s health, his or her pediatrician is the best resource, Cauley said.

Additional resources are available for those who wish to stay up to date on health issues. These resources include the Hamilton County Public Health Facebook Page and the website.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

Parents with health concerns or questions also can call the Cincinnati Health Department at (513) 357-2808.

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