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Heading Back to School? Make Sure Your Teen is Up to Date on Immunizations to Stay Healthy

Guest post by Jefferson County Public Health

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) encourages parents to ensure their child is up to date on all recommended immunizations, including the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, before heading back to school.

They’ll always be your baby, even when your little boy towers over your head or your baby girl is going through her first heartbreak. Though the diapers and baby teeth have been replaced by hormones and acne, your teen still needs your help to be healthy.

Students Going to School

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents are less likely than
younger children to receive all the recommended vaccines. This often happens because teens don’t visit the doctor as frequently as young children, parents may not know certain vaccines are needed or families may not know all the benefits of newer immunizations, like the HPV vaccine.

Every year, more than 31,500 women and men are affected by a cancer caused by HPV. That’s a new case about every 20 minutes. The HPV vaccine is an effective way to prevent some of these cancers, and studies of the vaccine show no serious safety concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC recommends 80 percent of teens receive the vaccine to keep the entire population healthier. Colorado’s rates are far below that level at less than 60 percent of adolescents vaccinated against HPV. That means our teens may be at a higher risk.

“No parent wants their child to be sick, let alone sick with an illness that can be prevented,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, executive director of JCPH. “Just as your back-to-school list includes essentials for your student’s success — like scissors, glue and pencils — it should also include essentials for their health, like immunizations.”

In addition to the HPV vaccine, teens and preteens are often due for two doses of vaccines to prevent meningitis, a dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) and an annual influenza vaccine. If they have missed any of their earlier vaccines, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis A, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), polio or varicella (chickenpox), these immunizations may be recommended as well.

So when you’re hitting the back-to-school aisles, replacing the clothes your kids have outgrown and wondering how in the world they go through shoes so fast, remember that your teen will always be your baby. Keep them safe, keep them healthy and keep them immunized.

To learn more about immunizations and to find immunization schedules for teens, visit the JCPH website or the CDC website. Immunization appointments are available at your local public health clinic.

You can also find out more about the HPV vaccine by visiting HPVFreeCO.org.

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