Immunizations, Vaccinations, & Shots
Vaccination is the best way to protect your adolescent against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus (also known as lockjaw), hepatitis B and varicella (chicken pox). Because of vaccination, there are fewer cases of these diseases, but they still exist.
- Pertussis is an increasing health problem among adolescents and young adults due to declining immunity after the initial childhood vaccination. All 11- and 12-year-old kids should receive the Tdap (tetanus, diptheria and pertussis) vaccine. Students who received the dT booster in the past should get the next Tdap five years after the dT shot. The vaccine should be given at their 16- to 18-year-old well visit, usually performed just before heading to college to give them protection against pertussis. Once this Tdap is given, another booster vaccine is not needed in adulthood.
- From 1991 through 2002, the highest rate of meningococcal meningitis occurred among infants under 1 year of age and those 11 to 19 years of age. In January 2005, a new vaccine (MCV4) for meningococcal meningitis was approved for use among individuals 11 to 55 years of age.
- Hepatitis B is a serious infection and can lead to diseases of the liver. All 11- to 19-year-old kids should be vaccinated against hepatitis B if they haven't been already.
- Two MMR vaccinations are necessary. The first is usually given to infants at about 15 months of age. If your adolescent has not had the second vaccination, then he or she should get it now.
- Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine is recommended for teens not vaccinated previously and who have not had chicken pox.
- All immunizations for adolescents can and should be given at the same time.
The Catch-Up Visit
A visit to "catch up" on vaccinations is recommended for all children 11 or 12 years old. During this visit your adolescent should receive:
- The Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diptheria and pertussis.
- The varicella (chicken pox) vaccine if not previously infected or vaccinated;
- The second dose of MMR, if it has not already been given;
- The first dose of the hepatitis B series if it has not already been given. Adolescents should receive 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine. The second dose is given 1 or 2 months after the first dose. The third dose is given 4 to 6 months after the first dose;
- Also, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Society for Adolescent Medicine are now recommending routine vaccination for meningococcal meningitis (MCV4) of young adolescents (ages 11 and 12) at a pre-adolescent health care visit, before starting high school (ages 14 and 15) or just before entering college.
Vaccines to prevent the "flu" and pneumonia-type infections are recommended for children with health problems such as kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, diseases of the lung and heart, and other chronic conditions. Ask your teen's doctor for more information.
The hepatitis A vaccine should be given to teens who plan to travel to or work in a country that has high rates of hepatitis A, those who live in a community with high rates of hepatitis A, and those with other special circumstances. Hepatitis A causes diarrhea, dehydration, and other health problems.
Reprinted with the permission of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. 2008 Palo Alto Medical Foundation. All rights reserved.
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