Preteen and Teen Vaccinations
Although most parents are aware or become aware through their pediatrician that their young child needs vaccines, many parents do not realize that their preteens and teens need vaccines too. There have been three new teen vaccines since 2005. The following chart lists these. The fourth vaccine on the list, although not new, is something parents should also seriously consider getting for their teens.
Suggested Vaccines for Preteens and Teens
- Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (11-12) (Booster at 15-16) this vaccine prevents meningitis (inflammation of the meninges (the covering of the brain and spinal cord.) I remember a freshman when I was a senior in high school who got this. When she first got sick we were told she had a headache she was dead within two days because of having meningitis.
- Tdap vaccine (11-12) takes the place of what was once called the tetanus booster. This prevents three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis better known as whooping cough. Although infants are vaccinated against these diseases, teens need a booster to keep their immunity against them.
- HPV Virus – (11-12) a series of three shots aimed at preventing cancer in woman’s cervix and the anal tissue of both males and females.
- Flu Vaccine – It is suggested that preteens and teens get this every year due to the fact that when one student gets it and come into such close contact at school it is too easy for it to spread to everyone.
Although most parents are probably familiar with three of the above vaccines many are not aware of the HPV virus that causes cancer. A study done by the CDC revealed that as many as 79 million Americans are currently infected with the HPV virus.
This virus is passed to another through sexual intercourse and is the most widely spread sexually transmitted disease today. According to the CDC 14 million new cases occur every year. Despite this as of 2012 only one third of teen age girls get this vaccine.* This is sad because stats from the CDC show that each year there are over 19,000 new cases of cancer caused by the HPV virus.
A study that appeared in the Journal of Pediatrics reported the answer to the questions put to moms as to why they did not get their girls vaccinated. They reported that the thought their child did not need it because they weren’t sexually active or because they were worried about the side effects. This is unfortunate because of the number of people that end up getting cancer from this HPV virus, boys and girls alike. The purpose of this vaccination is to prevent this.
Parents need to be aware of the vaccinations needed when children are teens and they need to make sure that this includes the HPV virus.
*Bernal, Alyse: Aug, 29, 2013 “Vaccinations Vital for Teens as they Head Back to School:” Health and Safety.