Medical Advice: Back to Basics for Back-to-School Healthy Habits

Medical Advice: Back to Basics for Back-to-School Healthy Habits

As students and families prepare to return to school, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk) wants to remind residents to take the proper steps to stay healthy this school year.  Good health is important for students in order to maintain regular school attendance and be ready to learn.

Students who practice healthy habits tend to perform better in school and are more able to reach their full potential.  Health risks such as illnesses and unhealthy behaviors can contribute to poor grades and lower test scores.

Of course, students can only do well in school if they feel healthy enough to attend.  The following are important steps children and families should take to reduce the number of sick days for the new school year:

1. Get Vaccinated— Vaccines are crucial to keeping students well.  Make sure student’s vaccinations are up-to-date.  Students are required to have all mandated vaccines to attend Polk County schools.  Once flu shots are available, it is important to get one as soon as possible.  The HPV vaccine is also highly recommended for school-aged children nine years of age or older.  For more information about the required vaccines for school-aged children, visit
2. Keep Hands Washed— Keeping hands clean helps reduce the spread of germs and diseases that are easily transmitted in schools.  Washing hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water is a great way to reduce the chances of catching whatever illnesses may be going around.
3. Practice Healthy Habits— A great way to avoid health risks is to develop healthy habits.  DOH-Polk’s recommendation for healthier, active living is the 5-2-1-0 method.  This method is designed to encourage children and families to adapt a healthier lifestyle with simple and healthier choices.  5-2-1-0 encourages children and families to:

  • 5— Eat at least five fruits and vegetables every day
  • 2— Limit screen time to two hours or less per day.  Screen time includes TV, computers, video games, smart phones, etc.
  • 1— Get one hour or more of physical activity every day.  Make time to be active.
  • 0— Drink fewer sugar-sweetened drinks.  Try water and fat-free milk for children two years and older.

DOH-Polk offers back-to-school immunizations during regular clinic hours at the following clinic locations: Auburndale, Haines City, Lakeland, and Lake Wales.  Clinic addresses and phone numbers can be found on the DOH-Polk website at

Make a choice to start the school year off right by getting students vaccinated, keeping hands washed, and practicing healthy habits.  These healthy practices will help children and families make the most of this school year.


JOY JACKSON, MD, Director of DOH-Polk

About the Author: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk).  For more information about DOH-Polk, visit  Follow DOH-Polk on Twitter at

Categories: Columns, Health News