With kids spending more time in indoor classrooms that provide a much more favorable environment for spreading illness, they become more susceptible to catching colds, flu and other infections. Add in an avoidance of washing hands that seems to be universal in kids, and it’s the perfect storm to pass the germs that can get them sick.
Combining the vigilant eye of a mom with the clinical training of a pharmacist, Russo provides tips to help your child stay healthy this school year, and what to do if they get sick.
Tip 1: Get current on vaccines
Being up to date on your child’s vaccinations is the single most important means of keeping them—and those around them—healthy.
“Routine childhood immunizations that are delayed or missed put children at risk of catching serious but preventable diseases like measles, mumps, meningitis and whooping cough,” says Russo. “But skipping immunizations doesn’t just put the child at risk, it also puts other kids, teachers, administrators and caregivers in harm’s way, so I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to bring your child’s immunizations up to date before they re-start school. And, of course, Walgreens can help with that.”
Recent news reports on the rise of the EG.5 variant across the U.S. have served as a reminder that COVID is still around. But what does that mean for your child as they return to school?
Russo cites Centers for Disease Control information that says currently available vaccines are expected to be effective against this new variant, and there is no evidence indicating EG.5 is able to spread more easily than other variants.
“That’s good news,” she says. “But it’s also a reminder that COVID hasn’t disappeared, and in order to keep ourselves and our kids safe—particularly as they go back to school—it’s important to get up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine."
Tip 2: Stock your medicine cabinet so you’re prepared
A well-stocked medicine cabinet can be just as important as new shoes and a great haircut in the back-to-school hierarchy, because when the inevitable childhood maladies pop up throughout the year you want that little extra piece of mind that comes with being prepared to treat them.
But before you head to Walgreens to start stocking up, Russo recommends first using back-to-school as a convenient annual reminder to take inventory of your medicine cabinet and remove any expired products, which begin to lose their efficacy once they go beyond the expiration date on the package.
“Once you’ve cleared out the old medicines and you’re ready to stock new ones, there are three categories I think every parent should have: fever and pain relief, allergies, and cough and cold,” she says. “And, as a boy mom, I also have to include skin and wound care for the inevitable cuts and scrapes.”
Fever and pain relief: Russo’s go-to for fever and pain relief is acetaminophen, which is a safe and effective first line of defense against fever and mild to moderate pain. Kids who are age 12 and older can take Walgreens Extra Strength Pain Relief Gelcaps, while kids between ages 2-11 can take Walgreens Children’s Pain and Fever. Russo adds that Walgreens brand medicines include the same active ingredients as national brands, at a lower cost, and carry the Walgreens Pharmacist Approved seal, to assure you of its quality.
If your child plays sports and twists their ankle or suffers a similar injury that causes inflammation, then your best bet is to go with ibuprofen, which also works as a fever-reducer. Just make sure you're taking it with food. Ibuprofen has the same age guidance as acetaminophen, so Russo recommends Walgreens Ibuprofen Mini Softgels for kids ages 12 and older, and Walgreens Dye-Free Ibuprofen 100, which is gluten- and dye-free, for ages 2-11.
Cough and cold: It feels almost inevitable that sometime during the school year kids will come home with a cold, despite your best efforts to keep them healthy. Help them focus on school instead of their stuffy noses, chest congestion and coughs by alleviating their symptoms with Walgreens Stuffy Nose and Cold Relief and Walgreens Honey Lemon Sugar-Free Cough Drop
If your child has medications to manage through the Walgreens pharmacy, you can do that through the Walgreens app and get your prescriptions delivered so you have them ready to drop off at the nurse’s office on the first day of school.
Preparing for the start of the school year is a hectic time for parents, with back-to-school shopping and the hundreds of other details that need to be taken care of. If you can’t stomach one more back-to-school stop, make restocking your medicine cabinet easy on yourself by ordering on Walgreens.com and having it delivered to your front door with 1-Hour Delivery or 30-Minute Pickup. And maybe add some Walgreens Stress Support Gummies to your order as a reward to yourself. With back-to-school savings going on through August 26, your stress levels are sure to come down.
Tip 3: Don’t forget to give your child’s immune system some love
A strong immune system is the key to fighting off the germs that are seemingly everywhere in school. Russo reminds parents of three critical areas that will keep their child’s immunity strong and humming: making sure they get enough sleep, providing healthy food choices so they’re eating a balanced diet, and, to manage the stress that can wear down the immune system, getting them outside for exercise and fresh air, especially after sitting inside in a classroom for a large portion of their days.
Some options for helping boost immune systems of kids and parents alike are Walgreens Super Greens + Probiotics, featuring 11 green superfoods, and Walgreens Super Reds + Probiotics that contains 12 red superfoods and antioxidants.