Ask the Doc: Back to School Germaphobe

There’s always that one parent taking extra care to make sure their child never gets sick. But the reality is, germs are and will forever be a pest for any parent and their growing child. Studies show that kids touch and retouch around 300 surfaces in a 30-minute period. Now, factor in the nearly 10,000 bacteria in just one sneeze. Those germs now multiply with every touch afterward. And with those cold and flu germs, they can survive on any surface for nearly 72 hours.

Dr. Ryan Graddy, a primary care physician at Absolute Care in Atlanta sees the chain effects of germs, especially around back-to-school time. “I’ve seen parents and other people who’ve come into contact with kids with cold and flu symptoms,” he said.

Even though it’s not the prime time for cold and flu germs, warmer weather according to Dr. Graddy can bring with it a unique set of illnesses including viral gastroenteritis. It can spread during the summer into the fall.

He says your number one defense in keeping your kids from sickness is cleanliness. Wash your hands often with soap, before and after meals, stay home if you’re sick, don’t share drinks or food, disinfect and sanitize anything before your child touches is, and as always, keep seeing your doctor annually.

“Your kids haven’t been exposed to as many people during summer as they would during the school year,” said Dr. Graddy. “Going back to school, they’re going back to kids that they haven’t been exposed to which means germs and illnesses that can affect any child’s immune system.”

Dr. Graddy says it’s very important to have your kids up to date on their vaccinations, even though there aren’t any special ones needed when kids go back to school. “Everybody can get exposed,” he said. Which means the parents he sees in his office need an extra line of protection when around their kids.

That comes in the form of the flu shot that parents and their kids can start getting this month or October. At Absolute Care, flu shots and other vaccines are administered daily depending on the season, but Dr. Graddy urges any person with active kids to play it safe when it comes to germs, to keep from spreading them to those around them.

For more information on flu vaccinations and other preventative measures, visit