This is the last week of National Immunization Awareness Month. And last but not least, it's time to focus on preteens and teens. As with babies and young children, pregnant women, and adults, there are certain vaccines that can be very important for keeping teens healthy now as well as setting then up for a healthy life.
While our kids (and yours) may be nowhere near the teen years, we know that they'll be here before we know it. And I don't know about you, but I like to have an idea of what's to come down the road. So here's the quick roundup of the top vaccinations for those formative years:
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: Meningococcal bacteria can cause infections in the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (septicemia). These infections can have very severe effects, including hearing loss, learning disabilities, among others. There are two different vaccines-- meningococcal conjugate vaccine and serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine: HPV infections can cause some kinds of cancers (cervix, vagina, penis, among others). By getting vaccinated against HPV, most of those cases of cancer can be prevented.
Tdap vaccine: While children receive the DTaP vaccine early in their lives, they can wear off over time. By getting the Tdap booster shot, preteen and teens can stay protected from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
Flu vaccine: Teens and preteens need to receive this vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is updated each year, formulated to protect against the strains of the flu virus that are predicted to be the most prevalent that year.
No matter what stage in life you (or your child) are in, it’s important to make sure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations. If you are unsure of this, be sure to contact your primary care doctor (or child’s pediatrician). He or she will be able to assess you and provide recommendations. Vaccines still remain the best protection against many devastating diseases!