Has your teenager been administered all the necessary vaccines?
Parents tend to follow their infant’s immunization schedule religiously; but often forget to follow up with their medical consultants if the same child needs immunization during the preteen and teenage years.
Vaccines are necessary in later years too. As the child grows older, the protection offered by childhood vaccines begins to wear and hence boosters are required for the same. Preteens and teens are also at higher risk for some infections, as they live in close contact with others in classrooms and dormitories and thus the need vaccination.
The following vaccines are recommended for preteens and teens:
This vaccine is necessary to protect the child against the Influenza viruses predicted to be common during the flu season. This virus affects the lungs and could lead to serious conditions like pneumonia or even death. This vaccine is recommended for everyone above the age of six months and should be taken every year. Since this virus spreads easily through the air through coughs, sneezes and nasal droppings, children are at high risk of contracting the virus and hence the need for the vaccine. This vaccine should be specially administered to children suffering from medical conditions like asthma and diabetes, each year. This vaccination should generally be taken during the fall to spring season.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4)
This vaccine protects children against any type of meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the tissue around the spinal cord and brain. This disease can cause severe damage like hearing loss, kidney failure, brain damage and loss of fingers, legs or arms and in many cases even death. The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all children between 11 to 18 years of age. The MCV4 shot should ideally be given to a child at 11-12 years of age and it should be followed by a booster at 16 years. A teenage who received this vaccine between 13-15 years, should take a booster shot between 16-18 years.
This vaccine helps protect against complications caused by tetanus, Diphtheria, pertussis or whooping cough. Even though preteens and teenagers may have received this shot as infants, it needs to be administered again between 11-12 years of age; as the protection offered by the earlier shot begins to wear off after 5 years. This shot is necessary not only to protect the child but also to prevent them from spreading these infections to other infants around them. A child who is 13 years plus and has never received this vaccine, should get a single Tdap dose as soon as possible.
Human papilloma virus vaccine (HPV)
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and is highly common in people in their late teens and early twenties. This disease causes cervical cancer and genital warts. This vaccine is administered in three doses over six months. It is best to ensure that all three doses have been administered before the teenager indulges in any type of sexual activity.
Children should receive the above mentioned vaccines ideally when they are 11-12 years old. However even if they have crossed that age and have not received any of the above mentioned shots, you must immediately contact your medical practitioner and schedule out the next best time for these life saving shots.