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Back-to-school season is here. It’s time for parents to gather school supplies and back packs. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.

To celebrate the importance of immunizations for people of all ages – and make sure adolescents are protected with all the vaccines they need – the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Immunization Program is joining with partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections.

Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need a booster dose. You may have heard about whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks recently. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and very real. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community, and other family members.

While your kids should get a flu vaccine every year, the three other preteen vaccines should be given when kids are 11- 12 years old.  Teens may also need a booster dose of one of the shots, or get any shots they may have missed. You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. The vaccines recommended for preteen and teen girls and boys are:

  • 4-valent meningococcal vaccine, which protects against four types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis – a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord – in teens and young adults.
  • HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.
  • Tdap vaccine, which is a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis (whooping cough) can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. It can also be spread to babies who are too young to be vaccinated, and this disease can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly for babies.
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year. Parents should also get vaccinated to protect themselves and to help protect their children.

Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Want to learn more about the vaccines for preteens and teens? Check out http://www.cdc.gov/Features/PreteenVaccines/

 

Written By:


Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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