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Don’t Neglect Your Teen’s Vaccines

By Diana Herrero, Interim Immunization Section Director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Everyone knows how important vaccines are for babies and toddlers, but what about adolescents and teens? As kids reach their teenage years, protection from some childhood vaccines begins to wear off. Plus, older kids are at risk for other diseases. A report published August 30 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that while more teens are getting vaccinated, coverage rates still fall below national goals for some teen vaccines.

Unfortunately, many teens and their parents don’t realize that kids should continue with their annual doctor’s exams – and vaccinations – after they’ve started grade school and well into their teenage years.

“So much attention is given to early childhood immunizations, but we need to remember the importance of vaccinations for teens and adolescents, as well,” said Rosemary Spence, RN, CDPHE Immunization Section Public Health Nurse Consultant. “Teens need to be protected against things like bacterial meningitis, tetanus, and whooping cough. It’s much less painful to get a shot than to suffer from these diseases.”

As you’re sending your teen back to school, remember to take a moment and schedule their annual doctor’s appointment.

Here are four adolescent/teen immunization recommendations to discuss with your doctor:

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine (1 dose): a booster to protect against these three infectious diseases (pertussis is also called “whooping cough”);
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (2 doses) (MCV4, or MenACWY): an immunization to protect against meningococcal disease (like meningitis or sepsis, a blood infection);
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (3 doses) (Cervarix or Gardasil): an immunization recommended for both boys (Gardasil only) and girls (both Cervarix or Gardasil) to protect against many HPV-related cancers;
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine (each year): a vaccine (either the flu shot or nasal spray) that is recommended yearly for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against different strains of seasonal influenza.

Teens can also use the CDC’s handy vaccine quiz to determine which vaccines they need (ages 11+).

New Teen Vaccine Educational MaterialsTeen_Vaccination_Poster_in_English
Colorado school providers and youth organizations can also encourage teens to get vaccinated, thanks to new materials  from the CDPHE Immunization Section. The Youth Partnership for Health, an advisory group of teens that gives input and feedback on policies and programs
to CDPHE, helped create educational materials to increase awareness among Colorado teens and their parents regarding the importance of immunizations.

The free educational materials include a poster (in both English and Spanish) and online ad banners that can be used on websites and in emails and e-newsletters. Order your posters and download the ad banners today!

For more information about teen vaccines, visit:
CDC website – Preteens and Teen Vaccines (For Parents)
CDC website – Preteen and Teen Vaccines (For Preteens and Teens)

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