Health and Wellness

Students are routinely screened for vision, hearing and other common problems. Students are not automatically covered by medical, dental or accident insurance. For information regarding free/low-cost health insurance programs for students and youth in Washington state visit www.parenthelp123.org or www.wahealthplanfinder.org. If your student is not covered by a family plan, you may purchase student insurance through the district. Contact your school office for student insurance forms.

Immunizations Required: Washington state law requires that students enrolled in grades PreK–12 be fully immunized. Any student enrolling in a Tacoma School District school must show proof of immunizations before the enrollment process begins. Students will not be enrolled unless immunization requirements are met or evidence of the initiation of an immunization schedule is provided. All students preregistering for kindergarten must provide proof of being fully immunized to complete the registration process. When you enroll your student in school, please fill out a Certificate of Immunization Status (CIS) form. State law requires that the CIS form is completed, dated and signed by the parent or guardian.

Physical Examinations: It is recommended that your student have a physical examination before entering kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades. Middle school and high school students participating in interscholastic or extramural athletics must have a physical examination before trying out for a sport. Call the district Athletics/Activities office at 253-571-1123 for more information.

Children with Life-Threatening Conditions: A state law passed in 2002 directs school administrators to require the presence of a medication and/or treatment order(s) prior to attendance, for each child with a life-threatening health condition. These documents are used to create a health care plan for a child’s life-threatening health condition that may require medical services to be performed at school. The medication or treatment order(s) and health care plan must be provided before or on each child’s first day of attendance or continued attendance if the child is already in school. Please contact the school nurse if your child has a life-threatening health condition. A Life-Threatening Health Condition means a condition that will put the child in danger of death during the school day if a medication or treatment order providing authority to a registered nurse and nursing plan is not in place.

Illness or Injuries at School: If your student is injured or is too sick to remain at school, he/she will be sent home only after the school contacts you or the emergency contact person you list on the enrollment form. If no one is available, your student will be kept at school. If there is an emergency, school staff members will act on the parent’s behalf and get help. Medical equipment/ devices must have written authorization from a health care provider; examples include canes, crutches, walker aids, wheelchairs, heart monitors, VNS, feeding pumps, CGMs etc. Medical equipment must be provided by the family and are not available from the School Nurse. Please keep the school nurse informed of any changes in your student’s health condition.

Non-Emergency Physical Examinations: The school district may schedule and conduct a hearing, vision and/or dental screenings. In addition, examinations that are necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of the student or of other students may be conducted without prior parental notice and consent. District staff will not conduct any invasive physical examination or screening (defined as "any medical examination that involves the exposure of private body parts or any act during such examination that includes incision, insertion or injection into the body") without prior parental approval.

Medicine at School: If your student needs to take prescription or over-the-counter medication at school, you and your student’s doctor must sign a permission form. This form is available at your doctor’s office, from your student’s school, or on the district website at tacomaschools.org. The medication must be sent in its original container, and it must show your student’s name, the medication name, the dosage, and the time medication should be given. The medication must be brought to school by the parent or another responsible adult. Please provide an empty second prescription bottle with an identical label for use on field trips. All medications must be picked up prior to the last day of school or shall be destroyed after proper family notification.

Drug and Alcohol Counseling Program: Washington law (RCW 70.96A.095) states that "Any person 13 years of age or older may give consent for himself or herself to the furnishing of outpatient treatment by a chemical dependency treatment program certified by the department. Parental authorization is required for any treatment of a minor under the age of 13."If you are concerned about your son/daughter and possible involvement with alcohol and/or other drugs, please call the school principal or counselor.

Parent Information Night on HIV/AIDS Curriculum: Washington state law requires that parents review the HIV/AIDS curriculum for students in grades 5–12 before excluding their student from participating. Please contact your child’s school for the time and place of the presentation.

Provision of Health Care Services to Students with Special Medical Needs: The Tacoma School District provides full-time nursing staff at designated elementary schools for students with serious health conditions requiring specialized licensed health care. Students will be served at the regional site closest to their residence. For more information, please contact the Health Services Department administrator at 253-571-1506 or 253-571-1438. Visit the district website for current elementary regional sites at tacomaschools.org.

Meningococcal Disease: As of July 2005, schools in Washington are required to make information available on Meningococcal diseases to parents or guardians of all students entering grades 6-12.

Meningococcal Disease and Prevention: Meningococcal disease spreads by direct contact with infected persons by coughing, kissing or sharing anything by mouth, such as water bottles, eating utensils, lipsticks or toothbrushes. It can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). Severe disease can cause brain damage, loss of hearing or limbs and death. Fortunately, this life-threatening infection is rare, usually, only about 30-60 cases are reported each year in Washington, including one to eight deaths. Adolescents and young adults are more likely to get meningococcal disease, especially if they live in group settings, like college dorms.

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4): MCV4 protects your child against the most common types of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Patients younger than 19 years of age can get MCV4 vaccine for free in Washington State. Some health care providers’ offices charge an administration fee or an office visit fee. You can ask to waive the administration fee if you can’t pay. Healthy teens should get one dose of MCV4 at age 11 through 12 years. Teens who did not get their first dose at that time should get a dose as soon as possible. A second dose (or booster) is now recommended. Teens should get a booster at age 16 through 18 years or any time before college. Talk to your healthcare provider about this vaccine.

To learn more about meningococcal disease and how to prevent it visit:

State Resources

  1. Washington State Department of Health: www.doh.wa.gov
  2. Office of Immunization and Child Profile: www.doh.wa.gov/AboutUs/ProgramsandServices/PreventionandCommunityHealth/OfficeofImmunizationandChildProfile
  3. Disease and prevention: www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization/Diseases.aspx

Federal/National Resources

  1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Meningococcal vaccine information: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening.html
  2. Disease information: www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html  
  3. Pre-teen immunizations: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/index.html
  4. College students & young adults: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/college.html
  5. National Meningitis Association: www.nmaus.org

Human papillomavirus (HPV) Disease and Prevention

What is HPV and the symptoms? Most of the time infected individuals have no symptoms and can spread the virus without knowing it. Some people know they have HPV because they have a symptom like genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV through cervical cancer screening (Pap tests) and HPV testing. Health care providers do not usually test for HPV unless they find abnormal cervical cell changes in a Pap test.

HPV Vaccine
Two HPV vaccines are available:

  1. HPV4 – licensed for males and females. It protects against four types of HPV. These include two types of HPV that cause 75 percent of cervical cancers in women and most anal cancers in men and two types that cause 90 percent of genital warts in both women and men.
  2. HPV2 – licensed only for females. It protects against the two types of HPV that cause 75 percent of cervical cancers.
Who should get the vaccine and when should they get it?

  1. Females – the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination for all girls age 11 through 12 years old against HPV. For unvaccinated females, the recommendation goes up through age 26. Health care providers may also give the vaccine to girls as young as 9 years.
  2. Males – the ACIP also recommends routine vaccination against HPV for all boys 11 through 12 years of age. For unvaccinated males, the recommendation goes up through age 21. Health care providers may vaccinate boys as young as 9 years and certain men 22 through 26 years of age.

Are Pap tests still recommended for females who get the HPV vaccine?
Yes. The HPV vaccine does not protect against all HPV that can cause cancer and warts, so females still need Pap tests.

Where can I find the HPV vaccine?
Ask your doctor, nurse or local health clinic to find out more about the HPV vaccine and where you can get it. Patients younger than 19 years of age can get HPV vaccine for free in Washington state. Some health care providers’ offices charge an administration fee or an office visit fee. You can ask to waive the administration fee if you can’t pay. For people age 19 and older, the vaccine is available from many clinics and pharmacies. Most health insurance plans cover the vaccine for people recommended to get it. Call your health plan to check your coverage. For adults without health insurance, the companies that make these vaccines have programs to help pay for them. Find out if your health care provider participates in these programs.

For more information on HPV, the vaccine and cervical cancer:

State Resources

  1. Washington State Department of Health: www.doh.wa.gov
  2. Disease and prevention: www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/Immunization/Diseases.aspx

Federal/National Resources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/
  2. American Sexual Health Association: www.ashastd.org
  3. American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org

How can HPV infection be prevented?
The best way to prevent HPV infection is to abstain from all sexual activity. Even people with only one-lifetime partner can get HPV if their partner had previous sexual partners. Using condoms during sex offers good protection against sexual infections like HPV. The HPV vaccines offer by far the best protection if given before sexual activity starts – vaccines do not get rid of existing HPV infections. The HPV vaccine can prevent infections from some of the most common and serious types of HPV that cause cervical, oral and anal cancers as well as genital warts.