Immunization Awareness: Vaccinations in the teen years

Immunization Awareness: Vaccinations in the teen years

Starting high school and being introduced to the teenage years can be a lot of fun, but this life stage also comes with many challenges. Puberty, dating and the quest for independence are just a few of the challenges that may arise during this awkward life stage. It is also important to take care of your health and speak with a health care professional about important issues that may come up, such as dating, alcohol and drugs. Vaccinations are not just required for small children and the elderly but for pre-teens and teenagers as well, according to the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC).

There are four different types of vaccinations that are required or highly recommended during the early adolescent period.

Influenza

Influenza is the culprit for many deaths each year. Although influenza generally kills infants and the elderly, teenagers and adults can carry the influenza virus and infect both infants and the elderly. The influenza vaccine is recommended each year to prevent the most common strains of influenza. It is recommended annually, because each year a new vaccination is made based on the epidemiologic studies from the most common strains that were prevalent during the previous year. There are two forms of the influenza vaccine: the nasal mist and the injectable forms. The intranasal mist is considered a live attenuated vaccine and is therefore not recommended to anyone who is pregnant or who has an immunocompromised disease. The injectable vaccine is recommended to everyone who is 6 months of age or older.

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis

The Tdap vaccine is required for all pre-adolescents aged 11 to 12 years. Tdap helps prevent three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, all of which can be lethal. Keep in mind that the Td booster is different than the Tdap vaccine. Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis. A Td booster should be given every 10 years. Individuals who have never received a Tdap vaccine may be given one of these boosters. Tdap may also be given after a severe cut or burn to prevent tetanus infection. DTaP is a similar vaccine that is given to young children. Unlike Tdap, DTaP has a higher concentration of protectivity against diphtheria than Tdap.

Meningococcal disease

The meningococcal vaccine (MCV) is recommended for pre-adolescents aged 11 to 12 years for the first dose and a subsequent booster at 16 years of age. It is important to note that all college freshmen living in the dormitories should receive an MCV vaccine if they have not received a dose on or after their 16th birthday.

Human papillomavirus

The human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV vaccine) protects against the human papillomavirus, which is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. This is the only vaccine available that can prevent cancer. This vaccine is recommended for males and females starting at 11 to 12 years of age. It is a three-part series that should be administered before 26 years of age. This vaccine is not recommended for persons younger than 9 years of age or older than 27 years of age.

Vaccinations are important at every age and should strongly be considered in adolescents and young teenagers. Being a teenager is difficult enough without having to worry about contracting one of these serious diseases.

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