Protect Preteens, Vaccinate Them!

preteens at school sitting on stairs

Preventing diseases that can spread in our communities is the foundation of public health. This week, Tahoe Forest Health System is joining with the California Department of Public Health in recognizing March 3-9 as “Preteen Vaccine Week,” focusing on protecting kids, ages 11 and 12, against dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines are our best bet when it comes to giving our children safe and effective protection from infectious diseases.

“Immunizations have saved more lives and more healthcare expenses in the last century than any other scientific discovery. Sadly, many forget and become complacent. The volume of unsubstantiated theories seen on the internet have confused many parents and resulted in excessive unvaccinated children as well as a serious public health issue. All vaccines currently offered are evidence based and much safer than the alternative (including the cancer preventing HPV),” said Dr. Chris Arth, Pediatrician with Tahoe Forest Health System’s MultiSpecialty Clinics.

Preteens need vaccines against whooping cough (Tdap), HPV to prevent cancer, and meningitis (MenACWY) when they are 11-12 years old. Incoming 7th graders must also provide proof of having received the whooping cough booster and, now beginning in the upcoming school year, two doses of chickenpox vaccine before starting school. Additional meningitis vaccines are recommended when teens are 16 years old. Flu vaccine is also recommended for everyone 6 months or older, not just preteens and teens.

Dr. Arth reminds parents, “if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ask your doctor about the vaccines recommended for your child at their preteen visit, plus a flu vaccination every year.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to cover CDC-recommended vaccines at all ages without charging a deductible or copayment. Any child without coverage should be able to get vaccinations without a financial burden. Parents can contact their health care provider or local health department for information about the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), which provides free vaccines to eligible kids.

For more information, please visit www.ShotsForSchool.org or www.GetImmunizedCA.org.

To schedule a vaccination appointment for your child or preteen, call (530) 587-3523.

Additional resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Preteen and Teen Immunization Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/partners/teens/index.html 
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/index.html