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Preparing Students to Go Back to School

Summer vacation is coming to an end. There is much to do to get teens and preteens ready and motivated to return to the rigorous schedules of academics, sports and afterschool activities.

Once classes start, it’s hard to work things in, so here are a few items to think about now.

Sports Physicals

Call and make that appointment now. Do not wait until the last minute when your student tells you, “Practice starts tomorrow and I need it done today.” Print out your school’s physical form and make that appointment. Our office, Flagstaff Family Care, can complete these physicals at any of our locations.


There are several vaccines that are required by school systems. There are also several that are recommended for the health of your teen and preteen. Here is a brief outline:

Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis, Tdap is a combination of three vaccines that is recommended as a booster shot for 11 to 12 year olds, those rising 6th graders.

Meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for 11 to 12 year olds, those rising 6th graders. A second shot is recommended at age 16.

Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, vaccine is recommended for 11 to 12 year olds, both girls and boys, with a second shot six months later. This can help prevent the spread of the virus and prevent cervical cancer. 

Influenza, or Flu vaccine, is recommended for everyone on a yearly basis. The vaccine should be given prior to flu season, in the September/October timeframe. 

Measles, Mumps, Rubella, MMR. The unexpected outbreak of measles this year has brought this vaccine into the headlines. The more than 1,000 cases of Measles this year are preventable with the safe and effective combined Measles-Mumps-Rubella, MMR, vaccine. Because of this vaccine, the U.S. was declared free of this highly contagious and, at times, deadly infection in 2000. The majority of the individuals infected this year did not get the vaccine. As a result of the increasing numbers of unvaccinated individuals, there is a rise in cases of the disease. You can protect your teen, preteen and others by ensuring they have had two MMR vaccines.

Many rigorous studies show MMR vaccines and other recommended vaccines do not cause autism. More information can be obtained from your medical provider, or visit the CDC website, CDC.gov immunization schedule.

School Anxiety

Back to school can be a stressful time for teens and preteens. Stress can lead to anxiety, which can then cause what seem to be irrational thoughts and behaviors. There may be a drop in grades and not completing homework. Students may also be afraid to make mistakes and feel they must be perfect and therefore avoid situations and events both social and academic. Several things to help get through this stressful time include:

Ensuring they are getting adequate sleep.

Providing healthy meals and snacks, and limiting sugar intake.

Creating manageable schedules, including your own, so as not to overload anyone.

Talking with them and exercising a few key habits:

Be a good listener, don’t interrupt or lecture.

Keep a sense of humor and don’t analyze or unpack your own emotions.

Offer positive feedback and don’t overreact or jump to conclusions.

Understand their perspective and don’t mock them.

If you feel this is more than you can handle on your own, speak with a teacher, school counselor or medical provider. FBN

Mary Porvaznik M.D. serves patients at Flagstaff Family Care. Call 928-527-4325 to schedule an appointment in Flagstaff and Sedona or visit FlagFamilyCare.com.

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