School fees, uniforms and stationery may top your list of "back-to-school" preparations, but health checks are crucial too.
General check-ups and vaccinations
The City of Cape Town's Health Directorate has called on all parents to ensure that health checks are done before their children start the new school year. This includes general check-ups and vaccinations.
According to the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule, children are given the tetanus and reduced strength of diphtheria vaccine (Td Vaccine) at the age of six, followed by another round at the age of 12.
Tetanus is a disease caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The toxin affects the central nervous system, sometimes resulting in death. Diphtheria is a highly infectious bacterial disease that usually affects the respiratory tract and sometimes the skin.
These immunisations are offered free of charge at clinics.
"I want to urge parents to ensure that their children receive these vaccinations, which are administered via an injection in their upper arm," said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Benedicta Van Minnen.
"We still have a few days left before the academic year starts, so now is as good a time as any to get the vaccinations done for children who need to get these shots."
She also pointed out that the City's health staff provides advice on good nutrition.
"It makes sense to prevent more people from getting sick, which is why we place such heavy emphasis on responsible behaviour, but also good nutrition.
"Our staff can help parents with advice on finding a balance for their child’s lunchbox that will positively aid their growth and development, but also keep them healthy," said Van Minnen.
She added that everything possible needs to be done to promote healthy eating habits and exercise.
Schools in the Western Cape are opening as of January 19.
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Image: Vaccine syringe from Shutterstock