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Back to School - Common Questions From Parents

by Alexa Styliadis

It's back to school time!

Some kids (and even parents) feel nervous on the first day of school! Here are some common questions and answers from the pediatricians at Pathway Pediatrics.

Q: How do I know if my child is overdue for their vaccines for the start of the school year?
A: As a general rule, your child will need to have all of their shots before starting Pre-K and Kindergarten. Most 11 and 15-year-old students will also need vaccines to start the school year. Call us at 585.545.7200 and we'll be happy to let you know if your child needs to come in sooner than their regularly-scheduled well-child visit.

Q: My child is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster this fall. How do I know which vaccines they are eligible for?
A: As of 9/6/22, the new Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent Omicron booster is FDA and CDC-approved in teens and adults 12 years and up as long as they haven’t had a booster shot in the previous 2 months. Right now, we are no longer giving COVID boosters with previous formulations of Pfizer or Moderna for children and adults ages 12+ per the latest CDC guidelines on 9/6/22 in order to help as many people as possible be eligible for the new vaccine when we get it in stock. We expect to have it in the office in the next few weeks.

If your child turns 12 in the next few months, it’s totally fine to wait to vaccinate them until they’re eligible for the new Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine. Even if your child initially got Moderna COVID vaccine protection, as long as they are 12 or older, they can still receive the new Pfizer bivalent omicron vaccine booster when it comes out. As of 9/6/22 there are currently no booster recommendations for children between the ages of 6 months and 11 years old.

Q: Can my child receive a flu vaccine at the same time that they receive another vaccine (including COVID-19)?
A: Yes! Fall can be hectic for families juggling new school schedules, sports, and after-school activities. Make your lives easier and make a single appointment for all of your child’s vaccines. Receiving multiple vaccines at the same time is both safe, effective, and easier for your family’s busy schedule!

Q: My child doesn’t want to go to school – does this mean they have school anxiety or separation anxiety?
A: Not necessarily. There are many reasons kids can feel worried about going to back to school – new classes, new teachers, new environments, and new academic pressures. We typically give all kids about a month to adjust to the school year before looking for other causes of school avoidance.

If your child is still having school avoidance behaviors (complaining of stomach aches, headaches in the morning, refusal to get into or out of the car) around early to mid-October, then it’s time to make an appointment with us so we can explore these anxious behaviors together as a team.

Q: How do I get my kid back on a “school” sleep schedule?
A: This is a common question that takes quite a bit of planning. If you can, start having them go to bed a half hour earlier every day for a week. They may not fall asleep earlier and that’s okay – but keep it up. The hard part of getting them back on a schedule is that you not only need to put them to bed a half hour earlier every night, but your family also has to wake them up a half hour earlier every morning to reset their sleep schedule. This takes a lot of discipline and buy-in from families, which can be difficult, so do your best!

We also advise not letting your kids sleep in on the weekends more than 1-2 hours past their regular school day wake-up time. Anything more than 2 hours later than when they typically need to wake up on a school day can make your child more tired – and will hurt all the hard work your family put into creating a new school sleep schedule for them.

Finally, we always advise taking all screens (tablets, laptops, televisions, phones) out of your child’s bedroom to help them associate their bedroom with a quiet, calm place to fall asleep. Good sleep hygiene is key to starting a new sleep schedule for your family!

Written by Dr. Karina Vattana, MD, FAAP

We're accepting new patients at Pathway Pediatrics! Call us at 585.545.7200 to make an appointment.