It is hard to believe, but school starts back in less than a month (at least here in Mississippi), so it is time to take a look at immunizations that are important for your teen/tween.
As mothers, it is up to us to provide our children with all they need (not all they want) to grow into healthy, happy adults - food, clothing, education, and immunizations. I do know there are some mothers who do not agree with getting their children immunized, but I'm not here to debate this somewhat controversial topic. This is a personal decision that everyone has to make.
As our children grow into the tween/teen years, you may think you are finally finished with the immunizations, but there are some very important immunizations tweens/teens need to ensure they stay disease-free:
- Td vaccine protects against tetanus and diphtheria.
- Tdap vaccine is the first vaccine for adolescents and adults that protects against:
- Tetanus (Lock Jaw):
- Causes painful muscle spasms, usually all over the body.
- It can lead to tightening of the jaw muscles so the victim cannot open his/her mouth or swallow.
- Tetanus kills about 1 out of 5 people who are infected.
- Causes a thick covering in the back of the throat.
- It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death.
3. Pertussis (Whooping Cough):
- Causes severe coughing spells, vomiting, and disturbed sleep.
- It can lead to weight loss, incontinence, rib fractures, passing out from violent coughing, and pneumonia.
(These three diseases are all caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds.)
WHICH VACCINE AND WHEN?
Routine: Adolescents 11-18
- A dose of Tdap is recommended for adolescents who got the DTaP or DTP as children and have not yet gotten a booster dose of Td. The preferred age is 11-12.
- Adolescents who did not get all their scheduled doses of DTaP or DTP as children should complete this series using a combination of Td and Tdap.
- Age 19 to adults should get a booster dose of Td every ten years.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
- Pain (3 in 4)
- Redness or swelling (about 1 in 5)
- Mild fever (up to 1 in 25)
- Fever over 102 (about 1 in 100)
- Headache (about 4 in 10)
- Tiredness (about 1 in 3)
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache (up to 1 in 4)
- Chills, body aches, sore joints, rash, swollen glands (uncommon)
- Pain (up to about 8 in 10)
- Redness or swelling (up to about 1 in 3)
- Fever (up to about 1 in 15)
- Fever over 102 (rare)
- Headache or tiredness (uncommon)
- Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children ages 2-18. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
- About 1,000-2,600 people get meningococcal disease in the U.S. each year.
- Even when treated with antibiotics, 10-15% of these people will die. Of those who survive, another 11-19% lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded, suffer seizures or stroke.
- College freshman who live in dormitories and teenagers 15-19 have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease.
- Meningococcal infections can be treated with antibiotics. Still, about 1 out of 10 people who get this disease dies from it, and many others are affected for life.
- This is why preventing the disease through use of meningococcal vaccine is important.
There are two kinds of meningococcal vaccine in the U.S.:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) was licensed in 2005. Preferred vaccine for people 2-55 years of age.
- Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) has been available since 1970s. It is the only vaccine in people older than 55.
Both vaccines can prevent 4 types of meningococcal disease. The vaccines cannot prevent all types of the disease, but both vaccines work well and protect about 90% of people who get them.
WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE AND WHEN?
- A dose of MCV4 is recommended for adolescents 11-18 years of age.
- College freshman living in dormitories.
- U.S. military recruits.
- Anyone who has a damaged spleen or whose spleen has been removed.
- Anyone who has an immune system disorder.
- People who might have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
- Redness or pain at injection site (as many as half)
- Fever (rare)
- Serious allergic reactions within a few minutes to a few hours of the shot (very rare).
- A serious nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) (rare).
HPV (HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS):
- Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S.
- More than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives.
- About 20 million people are currently infected.
- Most HPV infections don't cause any symptoms, and go away on their own.
- HPV can cause cervical cancer in women.
- Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
- In the U.S., about 10,000 women get cervical cancer and about 4,000 are expected to die from it.
- HPV is associated with less common cancers, such as vaginal and vulva cancer in women and other types of cancer in men and women.
- It can also cause genital warts and warts in the throat.
WHO SHOULD GET THE HPV VACCINE AND WHEN?
- HPV vaccine is recommended for girls 11 or 12 years of age. It may be given to girls starting ate age 9. It is recommended at this young age, because it should be given before their first sexual contact.
- Once a girl has been infected with the virus, the vaccine might not work as well or might not work at all.
- Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any component of the HPV vaccine or anyone who is pregnant SHOULD NOT get the HPV vaccine.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
- Pain in the injection site (about 9 in 10)
- Redness and swelling at the injection site (about 1 in 2)
- Fever of 99.5 or higher (about 1 in 8)
- Headache or fatigue (about 1 in 2)
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain (about 1 in 4)
- Muscle or joint pain (up to 1 in 2)
This post is getting a little long, so I'm going to condense these next few immunizations that tween/teens may need:
HEPATITIS B VACCINE - Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). All children should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and should have completed the vaccine series by 6-18 months. It is recommended that children and adolescents that did not get the vaccine when they were younger should be vaccinated. Hepatitis B can cause:
- Loss of appetite
- pain in muscles, joints, and stomach
- diarrhea and vomiting
- Liver damage (cirrhosis)
- Liver cancer
PNEUMOCOCCAL POLYSACCHARIDE VACCINE - Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. It is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable illnesses and death in the U.S. Pneumococcal disease can cause:
- Blood infections
This vaccine is recommended for anyone 2 - 64 years of age who has long-term health problems, such as:
- heart disease
- lung disease
- sickle cell disease
- Hodgkin's disease
- Lymphoma or leukemia
- Kidney failure
- multiple myeloma
- HIV or AIDS
- damaged spleen
- organ transplant
- receiving certain cancer drugs
INFLUENZA VACCINE is a contagious disease and is spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. The influenza vaccine is recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and certain health conditions, such as:
- Heart, lung or kidney disease
- a weakened immune system
In my opinion (and again, I am not an expert):
- All tweens/teens (and adults) should get a tetanus boost every ten years.
- No one should hesitate to get their tween/teen the meningococcal vaccine. Meningitis is a very serious disease. There are several strands, but acute bacterial meningitis is the most common. Approximately 80 percent of all cases are acute bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be life threatening. The infection can cause the tissues around the brain to swell. This in turn interferes with blood flow and can result in paralysis or even stroke. The onset of symptoms is fast, within 24 hours. If allowed to progress, you can die from bacterial meningitis.
- When it comes to the HPV, personally, if you know your tween/teen is not sexually active, I wouldn't get this vaccine (and I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree with me).
- As far as the other vaccines, influenza and pneumonia, if your tween/teen has a serious, life threatening illness or weaken immune system, they definitely need these two vaccines. The influenza vaccine is given yearly, but the pneumococcal vaccine is a one time shot.
How important are immunizations to you and your family?
*Picture by The Bridge Medical Service, LLC