Berrien County health officials provide back-to-school checklist for parents

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - As students head back to school, Berrien County Health Officer Guy Miller is laying out his back-to school checklist.

“Back to school is more than just making sure your backpack is full. As a health department, we’re focused on health, we are focused on keeping kids in the classroom,” Miller says.

In it includes immunizations against infectious diseases such as measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and hepatitis B. Requirements also include hearing and vision screenings for kindergarteners.

And by 2023, Miller says children entering kindergarten in Michigan must have a dental screening done too.

“That’s another great thing. Just make sure that parents are getting good oral health for their kids. That kids are getting good dental screenings early,” Miller says.

A blood lead screening and a sports physical is also recommended. Miller says although recent immunization records have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic, their goal is to continue to help keep kids in the classroom.

“We want to see people in person. In-person classroom instruction is very important to us and the more kids we can have in, I think the better quality education in our county our kids are going to get,” Miller says.

For more information on what you need to do before your student heads back to school, please see the following Berrien County Health Department press release:

The BCHD is dedicated to ensuring a healthy and successful return to the classroom, recommending children are up to date on the following:

· Immunizations against infectious diseases, such as measles, chickenpox, whooping cough and hepatitis B, which are required by state law.

· Hearing and vision screenings, which are required by state law for all children entering kindergarten

· Dental screenings, which will be required by state law by 2023 for children entering kindergarten.

· Blood lead screening, which can be done through a pediatrician or at the Berrien County Health Department.

· Sports physical to keep an updated health history and identify any medical issues commonly seen in children who participate in athletics.

“As parents prepare children for the upcoming school year, we want to make sure their back-to-school list goes beyond notebooks and backpacks,” Health Officer Guy Miller said. “The Berrien County Health Department works to support parents and teachers by helping to create a safe and healthy transition back to the classroom, protecting  children, minimizing disease outbreaks and providing children the best opportunity for in-person education.”

Parents should follow these recommended vaccine schedules for individuals 18 years old and younger.

The BCHD provides free hearing and vision screenings for preschool and school-aged children throughout Berrien County. Children entering school with undiagnosed hearing or vision problems often have trouble learning, including reading or hearing instructions. For more information about the BCHD’s hearing and vision screenings and to schedule an appointment, visit

Blood lead screenings are important for children because their bodies absorb lead more easily than adults. Children younger than 6 are at the highest risk for elevated blood lead levels, which can harm their growth, behavior and ability to learn.

Most exposure to lead is from paint dust, paint chips and soil contaminated with lead. Lead can also enter the body by drinking or cooking with water containing lead. Screenings for blood lead levels are as simple as a figure prick to ensure that there is no detection of elevated levels of lead in their blood. Schedule a screening through the child’s health care provider or call the BCHD at 269.926.7121.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sports physicals be conducted annually by a health care provider to ensure children are fully prepared to safely participate in athletics.

For more information about the BCHD’s services, visit or call 269.926.7121.

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