You are here

The 411 about back-to-school physicals

July 1, 2019

School physicals and select immunizations are required for students entering pre-k, kindergarten, 6th and 9th grades and for students new to Illinois. Students entering 12th grade need proof of the meningococcal vaccine on or after their 16th birthday.

My child already had a school physical. Is it still good for the next school year?
We accept physical exams done within one year prior to the first day of school. For example, physical exams done on or after August 20, 2018, will be accepted to begin school in August 2019.

Should I make an appointment with my child’s regular doctor, or is it okay to use a walk-in clinic?  
While we understand walk-in or free clinics are sometimes more convenient, we encourage children to routinely see their pediatrician or primary care doctor for more comprehensive checkups. When a doctor knows your child’s health history, habits and personality, he or she can more readily spot changes in your child’s health. Your regular doctor will screen for behavioral and health problems, learning difficulties, and substance use; monitor growth and development; address existing and new medical problems; and update immunizations. Plus, well-care visits are usually covered by insurance.

Need to schedule a back-to-school physical or checkup? Call SIU Medicine at 217.545.8000 or request an appointment online.

How can I submit the required health information and when is it due?
You can mail or fax the exam and immunization records to your school’s office at any time or submit them at registration in August. All required health information is due on the first day of school.

How can I find my child’s official immunization records?
1) Check with your child’s doctor or public health clinic. 2) Check with the Illinois Department of Public Health, which houses the I-CARE immunization record-sharing application. Please note: Due to HIPAA regulations, these records can only be faxed. 3) Check with your child’s school. Some schools keep immunization records on file for up to 2 years.

Still can’t find your child’s immunization records?
If you’ve checked with your child’s doctor’s office, the public health clinic, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and your child’s school, and you can’t find your child’s vaccination records or they are incomplete, your child should be considered vulnerable to disease and should be vaccinated or revaccinated.

What’s the difference between a sports physical and a school physical? Will my child need both?
A sports physical is slightly different than a school physical; school physicals are more comprehensive and the health care professional must use the Illinois Certificate of Health Examination form. If the physician checks the box allowing the student to participate in sports, this form can also be accepted for sports for one year.  Athletes need a new sports physical every year.

My child’s healthy, but I’m concerned about the safety of vaccines. Can my child be excused?
All students must have state-mandated vaccines. However, if your child can’t receive vaccines for medical reasons, you must provide documentation from a physician with specific information explaining why the vaccines can’t be given. Illinois schools also accept religious exemptions, which also must be signed by your physician and accompanied by a detailed description of religious beliefs that prevent you from vaccinating your child. Philosophical objections don’t meet the criteria for religious exemption.

What happens if my child fails to receive the necessary immunizations and school physical?
If the necessary info isn’t submitted by Aug. 31, the exclusion date, your child will not be able to attend school until the necessary information is submitted.