Before your child returns for 7th grade, immunizations are needed. As children reach their teen years, their risk of becoming ill due to certain serious infectious diseases increases. Vaccines are recommended to protect adolescents now and into adulthood.
Meningococcal vaccines protect against infection with a type of bacteria that causes meningitis and blood infection (sepsis). Adolescents are at increased risk of getting this infection. This is a rare, but extremely serious disease that kills up to 10 percent of those who get it. Up to 20 percent of survivors will have serious long-term or permanent complications such as brain damage, kidney damage, deafness, or amputations. Please note that adolescents need a booster vaccine at age 16. Parents should also ask about a second type of meningococcal vaccine (meningococcal B) that may be appropriate for their child between ages 16-18 years.
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine include protection against pertussis (whooping cough), which has been on the rise in the US especially among children 10-19 years old and babies under five years old. Vaccination is important even if your child was vaccinated as an infant, because the protection from those vaccines may not last into the teen years.
In addition to these vaccines, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that everyone age six months and older get an influenza vaccine every year. There are also vaccines that adolescents may need if they weren't fully vaccinated when they were younger and vaccines for adolescents who have certain risk factors.
Optional - NOT a State or school requirement: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against a cancer-causing infection. The HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series over a six-month period to protect both females and males. Teens or young adults who have not gotten any or all of the recommended doses should make an appointment to be vaccinated. Younger adolescents have higher antibody levels to vaccination compared to older adolescents and young adults. This may result in longer-lasting immunity for those vaccinated earlier in adolescence. I strongly recommend a comprehensive healthcare visit for all adolescents at age 11-12 years or as early as possible thereafter. Please make an appointment with your child's healthcare professional and be sure to check that your child's immunizations are up to date. Please send an updated record of any immunization your child receives to the school. For more information on which vaccines adolescents need, visit adolescentvaccination.org.