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Public Health Column for the Times-News

Adolescent vaccines available

Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014

By KIM HORTON
Health Department columnist

You’ve dealt with the cellphone issues, felt like a taxicab driver at times and reminded them about school
assignments. And while your preteen or teen is still dreaming about all the fun things left to do before school
starts, you are probably thinking about keeping them healthy and safe. So making sure they are protected from
vaccine-preventable diseases is essential.

An adolescent vaccines clinic will be held this month by school nurses at the Health Department to help put you
a step ahead on getting your kids ready to start school.

It’s a great time to hold such a clinic because August is National Immunization Awareness Month — a reminder
that we all need vaccines throughout our lives. And as kids get older, they are at increased risk for some
infections. Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so kids need a
booster dose.

6th-graders Tdap booster
For public school students entering sixth grade in a couple of weeks, North Carolina law requires them to get a
Tdap vaccine — a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

You have probably heard about pertussis outbreaks in the news. Pertussis, or whooping cough, can keep kids
out of schools and activities for weeks. It can also spread to babies, and this can be very dangerous and
sometimes deadly.

School nurses will offer Tdap vaccinations and other recommended adolescent vaccines 3-6 p.m. Aug. 14 at the
health department in the Immunization Clinic.

If you’re unable to make that date, the vaccines are also available on weekdays from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.
For more information, call 694- 6015.

Plan now to bring your rising sixth-grader to the health department for the required Tdap vaccine, and while
you’re here, consider getting your adolescent the other recommended vaccines for their age: human papilloma
virus, meningococcal conjugate and flu.

HPV vaccine is cancer protection. It protects both boys and girls from HPV infection and cancer caused by HPV.
Preteens and teens need to get all three shots for full protection.

D1 Meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against four types of meningococcal disease, which is caused by
bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis — a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord,
which can cause brain damage, hearing loss and learning problems.

Flu vaccine protects against flu and the other health problems flu can cause, such as loss of body fluids, making
asthma or diabetes worse or even causing pneumonia. Preteens and teens should get the flu vaccine every
year as soon as it’s available, usually in the fall. Remember that even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be
serious.

Additional protection

Also, check that your teen has received all recommended childhood vaccines. Do they need to catch up on
vaccines they never received or weren’t part of the vaccine schedule when they were younger? Two vaccines to
consider include hepatitis A and the second dose of the chickenpox vaccine.

Hepatitis A vaccine protects against the contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is
most often spread from person to person. The vaccine is 94-100 percent effective in preventing the disease.
Protection begins about two to four weeks after the first injections, and a second injection results in long-term
protection.

Chickenpox vaccine is safe and effective at preventing this very contagious disease. Most people who get the
vaccine will not get chickenpox. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually mild.

Be sure your adolescent has had the second dose of chickenpox vaccine for full protection.

This might seem like a lot of vaccines, but be assured that recommended immunization schedules are designed
to protect school-age children and teens by providing immunity early, before they are exposed to life-threatening
diseases.

Spreading out or skipping shots increases the chance your child will get a disease that vaccines can prevent.

Vaccine-preventable diseases are still real. The good news is that because so many parents ensure that their
children are up to date on vaccines, preventable disease outbreaks are rare in schools now.

School-required immunizations protect the children who receive them and also the other children and staff at
schools and child care. Immunizations don’t just affect your child; the benefits extend beyond the individual to
friends, community and other family members. What a great way to start the school year.

Visit the health department’s Immunization Clinic web page at www.hendersoncountync.org/health/web_pages/immunizations.html. More information about vaccines specifically recommended for adolescents is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/for-parents.html.


Kim Horton is the information and communications specialist at the Henderson County Department of Public Health. She can be reached at khorton@hendersoncountync.org. For further information about the Department of Public Health, please visit our website: http://www.hendersoncountync.org/health.

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