A new book bag. Trendy blue jeans. A pack of large number two pencils. If you’re a parent making a checklist for the new school year, don’t forget to check if your child has the proper vaccinations.
“Vaccinations are vital for children of any age, including high school students. Sometimes vaccines are associated only with babies or young children, but teens also need to be protected if they have not previously been immunized,” said Gloria Shuba, Family Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator of the Bayhealth Wellness Center at Caesar Rodney High School. “By keeping your child’s immunizations updated, you’ll provide protection against a wide range of possible diseases.”
According to Shuba, most of the vaccines are given during early childhood however, there are several key immunizations for adolescents as well:
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) - Typically, a child needs to receive the Tdap at age 11 – 12 years. If your child is older and hasn’t received this, he or she should get it soon. Your child will need a dose of Tdap at least once and receive a tetanus-diphtheria booster every ten years.
Varicella (chicken pox). The vaccine is given as a two dose series. Any teenager who was vaccinated as a child with only one dose should get a second dose by high school.
Hepatitis A. Anyone can get infected with Hepatitis A. However, certain high-risk groups have an even greater chance of contracting the disease. Talk to your provider about the two dose series of shots for preventing Hepatitis A.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV). All adolescent girls should get three doses of HPV vaccine to prevent most cervical cancers and genital warts. Adolescent boys may also get the HPV vaccine to prevent genital warts.
*Hepatitis B: Teenagers should make sure they have had the full series of three doses to prevent this liver infection.
*Meningococcal Disease (MCV4): All adolescents’ ages 11-18 years need a dose of MCV4. If you received a dose when you were age 11-15 and are now age 16-18, or about to enter college or the military you will need a booster dose.
*Influenza: Starting at age six months and continuing throughout their lifetime, kids should receive an annual vaccination against influenza every fall or winter.
The Bayhealth Wellness Centers provide immunizations to those students who qualify and also provides comprehensive sports physicals for high school athletes. The physicals include a health risk assessment, screenings for depression, drug, alcohol, tobacco use and high-risk sexual behavior. For a complete list of all the Bayhealth Wellness Centers, please visit bayhealth.org/wellnesscenters.