MUSCOGEE COUNTY, GA (WTVM) - Let's face it – nobody likes getting shots. But a shot lasts a second; diseases last much longer.
In an effort to protect every adult and child, the Georgia Department of Public Health established this year – Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week, June 23-27 to serve as a reminder for parents to talk with their preteens and teens about getting immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
"Preteens are becoming increasingly social. They go to overnight camps, attend parties and play team sports – they're beginning to interact with a larger social circle. While these are all fun parts of being a teenager, they could also increase their risk for contracting potentially life-threatening diseases," said Cathy Henderson, Acting Immunization Coordinator for the West Central Health District. "Couple this with the new school immunization requirements and it's the ideal time to make sure your preteen is up-to-date on their vaccinations and protected for their future."
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health Rule (511-2-2), all students born on or after January 1, 2002 entering or transferring into seventh grade and any "new entrant" into 8th-12th grades in Georgia need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination (called "Tdap") AND an adolescent meningococcal vaccination (MCV4). This law affects all public and private schools including, but not limited to charter schools, community schools, juvenile court schools and other alternative school settings (excluding homeschool).
Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and meningitis. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and after school activities and decrease the spread of illness at home, school and the community.
"Protection from vaccines received in childhood wears off as kids get older, so preteens and teens need a booster shot known as Tdap," said Steven Mitchell, director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Office. We can't stress enough the importance of getting your preteen vaccinated."
The CDC currently recommends the following vaccines for preteens and teens:
- Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
- Influenza (flu)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - three doses
- Meningococcal Disease (MCV4)
Preteen Vaccine Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness through schools, health care providers and the media regarding preteen immunizations, particularly Georgia's new pertussis and meningococcal requirements for incoming seventh-grade students. Speak with your physician or local health department today to find out if your preteen is up-to-date and if not, make a date to vaccinate.