There are more than 1 million 11- and 12- year-olds in California. During these preteen years children become more involved in making decisions about their health. Such decisions set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy choices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Adolescent Medicine each recommend that all 11- and 12- year-olds receive a preteen checkup.
This doctor’s visit provides a great opportunity for parents, preteens and healthcare providers to discuss the challenges associated with growing up, such as eating right, standing up to peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, as well as discussing other concerns. In addition, parents and caregivers should make sure that their child is up-to-date on recommended immunizations during the preteen checkup. If your child has not yet had a preteen checkup, give him/her a healthy start as an adolescent and make an appointment today.
The recommended immunizations for 11- and 12-year-olds include:
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is a three-shot series to protect boys and girls from HPV-related cancers and infections. HPV is a very common virus in the United States. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. each year, there are about 19,000 women and 8,000 men who develop HPV related cancers. A Papanicolaou test (Pap test) can detect most cases of cervical cancer in women.
Unfortunately, there are no routine screening methods for other HPV-related cancers in women and men, and these cancers can cause pain, suffering and even death. That is why the HPV vaccine, which prevents most HPV-related cancers, is important. It takes six months to complete the three-dose HPV series. The best way to remember to get your child all three shots is to make an appointment for the second and third shots before you leave the doctor’s office after getting the first shot.
2. Tdap vaccine, which helps prevent tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (Pertussis). In California, all incoming seventh-graders need proof of a Tdap vaccine before starting school.
3. Meningococcal Vaccine (MCV4), to protect against certain types of bacterial meningitis and other related infections. One dose is recommended for all 11- and 12- year- olds and a booster dose is recommended at 16.
4. Seasonal Influenza Vaccine, which protects against serious illness caused by the influenza virus. A yearly influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
Preteens may also need to catch up on other immunizations, including the chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine (many older children do not have their second dose), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and Hepatitis B.
Measles, influenza, and whooping cough outbreaks have recently occurred in California schools. Your child could be required to stay home from school if they are not up-to-date with their vaccinations during an outbreak. Your entire family is advised to get a whooping cough booster shot, if you have not already done so, to protect yourself, your family, and the community.
Since you cannot be by your preteen’s side every minute, immunizing your child is one way to protect his/her health today and for the years to come.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/index.html to view easy-to-read immunization schedules for children 0 to 6, preteens and teens and adults.
Zosima Inton, RN, PHN is a Immunization Coordinator with Solano Public Health, Solano County Health & Social Services, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.