Health and Wellness

Backpack Strategies

Carrying too much weight in a pack or wearing it the wrong way can lead to pain and strain on the back, shoulders, and arms. Parents and students can take the following steps to help children load and wear backpacks the correct way to avoid health problems.

Loading a Backpack

  • ·       A child's backpack should weigh no more than about 15 % of his or her body weight.
  • ·       Load heaviest items closest to the child's back (the back of the pack).
  • ·       Arrange books and materials so they won't slide around in the backpack.
  • ·       Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day's activities.
  • ·       If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.
  • ·       If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if allowed.

Wearing a Backpack:

  • ·       Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • ·       Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulder and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • ·       Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child's back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • ·       Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack's weight more evenly.
  • ·       The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child's waistline.
  • ·       Choose a backpack that is the right size for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.


Immunization Exemptions:


Exemptions for Medical Reasons

To claim an exclusion for medical reasons, the child or student must present an exemption statement to the school or child-care facility, dated and signed by a physician (M.D. or D.O.), properly licensed and in good standing in any state in the United States who has examined the child or student. The statement must state that, in the physician's opinion, the vaccine required is medically contraindicated or poses a significant risk to the health and well-being of the child or student or any member of the child's or student's household. Unless it is written in the statement that a lifelong condition exists, the exemption statement is valid for only one year from the date signed by the physician.


Obtaining an Affidavit

A person claiming exclusion for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief, from a required immunization may only obtain the affidavit form by submitting a request (via online form, mail, fax or hand-delivery) to the department. The request must include following information:

  • Full name of child or student
  • Child's or student's date of birth (month/day/year)
  • Complete mailing address, including telephone number
  • Number of requested affidavit forms (not to exceed 5).

Affidavit form requests will be processed and mailed within one week from the receipt of the request. If additional information is needed in order to process the affidavit, you will be notified.

Email or telephone requests cannot be processed. Requests for affidavit forms must be submitted to the department through one of the following methods:


Obtaining an Affidavit Online

Affidavits may be requested via the Immunization Unit Affidavit Request website.


Obtaining an Affidavit By Mail

A written request for an affidavit may be sent through the United States Postal Service (or other commercial carrier) to:

Texas Department of State Health Services
Immunization Branch, Mail Code 1946
P.O. Box 149347
Austin, Texas 78714-9347


Obtaining an Affidavit By Fax

Fax written requests for affidavits to: (512) 776-7544.


Obtaining an Affidavit In Person

Requests for an affidavit may be made in-person at:

Texas Department of State Health Services
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756


NOTE: No requests will be filled at the time of hand-delivery.
All affidavit forms will be mailed to you via U.S. Postal Service.