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National Immunization Awareness Month: Children, Preteens & Teens

  • August 11, 2014

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Children, Preteens & Teens

Preparing for school means gathering supplies and back packs. It’s also the perfect time to make sure children are up to date on their vaccines. Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations.

Children age 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio. Starting at 11 or 12 –preteens and teens – need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for all children 6 months and older.

Key Messages

Vaccines are important for protecting children from serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.

•Immunizations create a shield of protection at school and at home. Given recent outbreaks, it’s important that children be protected from dangerous and highly contagious diseases like pertussis (also called whooping cough) and measles.

•Vaccines don’t just protect your child. Some diseases, like whooping cough, can be deadly for newborns or infants. You can help protect our littlest community members from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by making sure your child is up to date.

•Many parents have never witnessed the damaging effects of a vaccine-preventable disease. As a result, they are not aware of the continued importance of getting all children vaccinated.

•Diseases like measles are only a plane ride away. Measles epidemics are occurring in the Philippines with nearly 32,000 cases as of April 20, 2014.

•Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Protecting your children from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school.

•When a child comes down with a disease such as whooping cough, chickenpox or the flu, he or she may miss a lot of school while recovering. Somebody will need to stay home to provide care and make trips to the doctor.

•Schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-age children can further spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact.

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives. Following the recommended schedule offers the best protection.

•Vaccines offer the best known protection against many devastating illnesses. Following the recommended immunization schedule is the best way to ensure your children are protected from deadly diseases.

•There is no science behind alternative immunization schedules. Delaying or withholding vaccines only increases the amount of time that children are vulnerable to diseases.

•The vaccine schedule is based on the best scientific information available and provides doctors with information on administration of each vaccine.

Talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional to make sure your children get the vaccinations they need when they need them.

•As you get ready to send your children back to school, educate yourself. Learn about the benefits and possible side effects of vaccinations.

•If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last minute rush and will help make sure there are no surprises on the first day back to school.

•Most schools require children to be up to date on vaccinations before enrolling or starting school in order to protect the health of all students.

•If you are unsure of your state’s school immunization requirements, check with your child’s doctor, school or local health department.

•Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what vaccinations your child needs.

Vaccines are very safe.

•Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored even after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.

•Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. They could help reduce time missed from school due to illness, and save money on expensive treatments or hospitalizations.

Vaccine Information

Check the childhood immunization schedule for all recommended vaccines for ages 7 to 18: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/preteen-teen.html

Following are key points about some of the vaccines that are recommended for children ages 11-12 and older children through age 18. 

HPV

Influenza (Flu)

Tdap

Meningococcal

 

Vaccine Safety

HPV is cancer prevention.

•HPV is short for human papillomavirus. HPV is a life-saving vaccine that protects against cervical and anal cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. Preteens and teens need the HPV vaccine now to prevent HPV cancers later.

•About 79 million people in the U. S., most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV.

•HPV vaccine is recommended by CDC and major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and) and other medical societies, for 11 or 12 year olds, for protection from HPV infection and HPV-related disease. For teens who have not started the series at 11 or 12 years, it’s not too late and can still be beneficial to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

•HPV vaccine works best when it is given to boys and girls at age 11 or 12 years. Also preteens need to complete the HPV vaccines series prior to any exposure to HPV. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years—the idea is true prevention.

•Either HPV vaccine (Cervarix® or Gardasil®) can be given to girls or young women. Only one HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) can be given to boys and young men.

•The HPV vaccine has a very good safety record. More than 67 million doses have been distributed, and vaccine safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccines are safe.

•Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.

•For more information about HPV and HPV vaccine: www.cdc.gov/hpv

Influenza: Get the flu vaccine every year. 

•The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine, which protects against different strains of seasonal influenza.

•Everyone 6 months and older – including preteens and teens – should get a flu vaccine every year, both to protect themselves and to help keep illness from spreading.

•Children under the age of 9 may require more than one dose. Talk to your child’s health care professional to find out if they need more than one dose.

•Flu vaccine protects against flu and the other health problems flu can cause, like dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can make asthma or diabetes worse, or even pneumonia.

•Children should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it’s available, usually in the fall. It is very important for children with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy children.

•Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Annual flu vaccination should begin by September or as soon as vaccine is available, and continue throughout the flu season. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January, February or later.

•It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop for protection against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.

•Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

•A 2013 study by CDC flu experts estimated that cumulatively over six flu seasons, from 2005 to 2011, flu vaccination averted approximately 13.6 million illnesses, 5.8 million medical visits, and approximately 112,900 flu-related hospitalizations in the U. S.

For more information: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/flu.html

Tdap: Help keep whooping cough from spreading.

•Tdap vaccine is a booster recommended at age 11 or 12 to protect against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough). It is also recommended for any teens (13 to 18 years old) who haven’t had this shot yet.

•The Tdap vaccine takes the place of what used to be called the tetanus booster.

•If your child has not received any or all of the DTaP vaccine series, or if you don’t know if your child has received these shots, your child needs a single dose of Tdap when they are 7 to 10 years old. Talk to your health care professional to find out if they need additional catch-up vaccines.

•Tdap vaccine is especially important for older children and adults who will have close contact with newborn babies or infants younger than 1 year.

•Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are all caused by bacteria.

•Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person.

•Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.

•Data show that more than 48,000 cases of pertussis occurred in 2012, a nearly 60-year high. While overall reporting of pertussis declined during 2013, 13 states and Washington, D.C. reported an increase in pertussis cases compared with the same time during 2012.

•CDC’s current estimate is that Tdap vaccination protects about 65 out of 100 adolescents who receive it.

•Tdap is an effective vaccine, but it does not protect as well as we would like and may only protect against whooping cough for a few years.

For more information about Tdap: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/tdap.html

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine: Protection against meningococcal disease.

•The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12 for protection against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by meningococcal disease are meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord) and septicemia (a bloodstream infection).

•Meningitis can be very serious, even fatal.

•A second shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue providing protection when their risk for meningococcal disease is highest.

•Teens who didn’t receive meningococcal conjugate vaccine for the first time until age 13 through 15 years will also need a second dose at 16.

•Older teens who haven’t received any meningococcal conjugate vaccine shots should get one as soon as possible.

•If your teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, ask his or her health care professional about getting it now, especially if your teenager is about to move into a college dorm or military barracks.

For more information about the meningococcal conjugate vaccine:  www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/mcv.html

Vaccine Safety

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•All vaccines used in the U. S. require extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

•FDA and CDC work with doctors and other health care professionals throughout the U.S. to monitor the safety of vaccines.

•Several systems are used to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are licensed and being used in the U.S.

These systems can monitor side effects already known to be caused by vaccines, as well as detect                 rare side effects that were not identified during a vaccine’s clinical trials.

One of the systems used to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are licensed and used in the                    U.S. is called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

VAERS accepts reports of adverse events (any possible side effects) that occur after vaccination.                   These reports come from health professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the general public                        (vaccine recipients or their parents/guardians).

See the infographic: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/infographics/journey-of-child-vaccine.html