Are your pre-teens and teens up to date on their immunizations? We might forget that after children receive their kindergarten shots that are required for school registration that booster shots are still necessary. Parents can do a number of things to ensure a healthy future for their child. One of the most important actions parents can take is to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines. Following the recommended immunization schedule provides the best protection from serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.
Preteens and teens need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine, quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to protect against serious diseases. A yearly flu vaccine is also recommended for all children 6 months and older. Preteens and teens need vaccines because they are at greater risk for certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia (blood infection), and the cancers caused by HPV infection. By making sure vaccines are up to date, parents can send their preteens and teens to middle school and high school – and also off to college – with protection from vaccine-preventable diseases. Being vaccinated not only helps protect adolescents from getting certain diseases like the flu and whooping cough (pertussis), it also helps stop the spread of these diseases to others in their family, classroom and community. This is especially important to help protect babies too young to be fully vaccinated, people age 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer, heart disease or other health conditions.
Check out our Immunization Schedules page for an easy to read, updated vaccination schedule for pre-teens and teens.
HPV is cancer prevention.
- HPV is short for human papillomavirus. HPV is a life-saving vaccine that protects against cervical and anal cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. Preteens and teens need the HPV vaccine now to prevent HPV cancers later.
- About 79 million people in the U. S., most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.
- HPV vaccine is recommended by CDC and major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and) and other medical societies, for 11 or 12 year olds, for protection from HPV infection and HPV-related disease. For teens who have not started the series at 11 or 12 years, it’s not too late and can still be beneficial to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
- HPV vaccine works best when it is given to boys and girls at age 11 or 12 years. Also preteens need to complete the HPV vaccines series prior to any exposure to HPV. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years—the idea is true prevention.
- Either HPV vaccine (Cervarix® or Gardasil®) can be given to girls or young women. Only one HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) can be given to boys and young men.
- The HPV vaccine has a very good safety record. More than 67 million doses have been distributed, and vaccine safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccines are safe.
- Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.
- For more information about HPV and HPV vaccine: www.cdc.gov/hpv
Influenza: Get the flu vaccine every year.
- The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine, which protects against different strains of seasonal influenza.
- Everyone 6 months and older – including preteens and teens – should get a flu vaccine every year, both to protect themselves and to help keep illness from spreading.
- Children under the age of 9 may require more than one dose. Talk to your child’s health care professional to find out if they need more than one dose.
- Flu vaccine protects against flu and the other health problems flu can cause, like dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can make asthma or diabetes worse, or even pneumonia.
- Children should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it’s available, usually in the fall. It is very important for children with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy children.
- Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Annual flu vaccination should begin by September or as soon as vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January, February or later.
- It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop for protection against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
- Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
- A 2013 study by CDC flu experts estimated that cumulatively over six flu seasons, from 2005 to 2011, flu vaccination averted approximately 13.6 million illnesses, 5.8 million medical visits, and approximately 112,900 flu-related hospitalizations in the U. S.
For more information: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/flu.html
Tdap: Help keep whooping cough from spreading.
- Tdap vaccine is a booster recommended at age 11 or 12 to protect against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough). It is also recommended for any teens (13 to 18 years old) who haven’t had this shot yet.
- The Tdap vaccine takes the place of what used to be called the tetanus booster.
- If your child has not received any or all of the DTaP vaccine series, or if you don’t know if your child has received these shots, your child needs a single dose of Tdap when they are 7 to 10 years old. Talk to your health care professional to find out if they need additional catch-up vaccines.
- Tdap vaccine is especially important for older children and adults who will have close contact with newborn babies or infants younger than 1 year.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all caused by bacteria.
- Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person.
- Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.
- Data show that more than 48,000 cases of pertussis occurred in 2012, a nearly 60-year high. While overall reporting of pertussis declined during 2013, 13 states and Washington, D.C. reported an increase in pertussis cases compared with the same time during 2012.
- CDC’s current estimate is that Tdap vaccination protects about 65 out of 100 adolescents who receive it.
- Tdap is an effective vaccine, but it does not protect as well as we would like and may only protect against whooping cough for a few years.
Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine: Protection against meningococcal disease.
- The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12 for protection against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by meningococcal disease are meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord) and septicemia (a bloodstream infection).
- Meningitis can be very serious, even fatal.
- A second shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue providing protection when their risk for meningococcal disease is highest.
- Teens who didn’t receive meningococcal conjugate vaccine for the first time until age 13 through 15 years will also need a second dose at 16.
- Older teens who haven’t received any meningococcal conjugate vaccine shots should get one as soon as possible.
- If your teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, ask his or her health care professional about getting it now, especially if your teenager is about to move into a college dorm or military barracks.
For more information about the meningococcal conjugate vaccine: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/mcv.html
So inform yourself during this back to school season and make the best choice for your children’s health. Lincoln County Public Health carries all recommended and required vaccines for school children. Give us a call at 885-9598 (Afton) or 877-3780 (Kemmerer) to ask questions or make an appointment for your child.