Lompoc Valley Medical Center joins the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health in recognizing the importance of protecting adolescents from dangerous diseases.
This week marks Preteen Vaccine Week, an annual California observance held each February. The goals of PVW are to distribute information and materials at schools, healthcare providers, and via the media to promote preteen visits to physicians and to raise awareness about routinely recommended immunizations for preteens: Tdap, HPV, and meningococcal vaccines, plus the 2nd dose of varicella vaccine and flu vaccine every year.
In California, there are more than 1 million children ages 11-12, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccinations, people can protect themselves, their families, and their communities from serious, life-threatening illnesses.
State law requires incoming 7th-grade students to be immunized with the pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) before starting school. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices currently recommends that 11 and 12-year-olds receive Tdap, meningococcal vaccine, HPV vaccine, and an annual flu vaccine. Some preteens may also need to catch up on chickenpox vaccine (many don’t have their 2nd dose), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and hepatitis B vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health recommend pre-teens receive the following vaccines:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) -- HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and can protect against infection with the types of HPV that can cause certain cancers.
- Pertussis -- Whooping cough (pertussis) can cause severe coughing spells. Preteens suffering from whooping cough can be hospitalized and miss weeks of school.
- Meningococcal -- Bacterial meningitis is a very serious infection that can cause brain damage, arm and leg amputations, kidney damage, and death. That’s why it’s crucial for all preteens to get one shot of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine at 11 or 12 years of age and a booster at age 16.
- Influenza-- Influenza is widespread in California. Everyone 6 months of age and older need to be immunized against influenza each year.
Some, but not all recommended childhood vaccines are required by California law and regulations in order to attend school. Under the California School Immunization Law (California Health and Safety Code, Sections 120325-120375), to protect the public’s health, children are required to receive certain immunizations in order to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools, child care centers, family day care homes, nursery schools, day nurseries and developmental centers.
Not all recommended immunizations are required for school, but it is still important that children receive all of them, according to public health officials. Talk to your doctor about other recommended vaccines, including flu vaccine every year.
If you’re concerned about the cost of the vaccines, the California Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost. Log onto http://eziz.org/vfc/provider-locations/ to find a site. Many local health departments offer free or low-cost vaccines. Your local pharmacy may also give Tdap and other vaccines for a fee.
Santa Barbara County Public Health officials note that “We have a record or near record low levels of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases in the United States, but that does not mean these have disappeared. Many of the viruses and bacteria are still circulating in this country or are only a plane ride away. That's why it's important that children, especially infants and young children, receive recommended immunizations on time. In our mobile society, over a million people each day travel to and from other countries, including countries where many vaccines preventable diseases remain relatively common. Without vaccines, epidemics of many preventable diseases could return, resulting in increased and unnecessary illness, disability, and death among children.”