When your child was a baby, they needed frequent vaccinations. Now that they’re in their teenage years and early 20s, you may not think they need any more vaccinations. However, annual exams and vaccinations still are important to foster good health and overall well-being in your teen/young adult. Here is some important information on vaccines – what they are, when they are needed, and what shots your adolescent to young adult child should receive.
What Are Vaccinations?
Vaccinations – also known as immunizations or vaccines – are injectable medications which build the body’s immunity against communicable diseases, such as hepatitis, pneumonia, meningitis, HPV, and more. These shots, as they are often nicknamed, are made from live, killed or weakened forms of disease-causing viruses, bacteria, or toxins. The current COVID-19 vaccines contain bits of genetic material from the COVID virus itself. Importantly, vaccines are engineered so that they do not contain enough of the disease-causing agent to make you sick with the disease. They provide your body with a “cheat sheet” so your body can build an immune response. That way, when you encounter the actual bacteria or virus, your body is already prepared to fight it off.
Whatever the microbe or substance the vaccination is made from, rest assured that it has been researched, tested, and proven as effective and safe according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. Beginning shortly after birth, most American babies begin receiving their immunizations.
Pediatricians and other health care providers usually follow the immunization schedules set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAPA). These schedules tell doctors, parents, and caregivers when children (up to age 18) and young adults (19 or older) need particular vaccinations and how many dosages are required.
Some shots are called trivalent as they give immunity to three kinds of diseases. The tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria shot (Tdap) is trivalent.
Some are bivalent, like the newest COVID-19 booster. It gives immunity against the original strains of COVID, as well as the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
Do Vaccinations Benefit The Community?
Yes, they do. In fact, the more children and adults receive immunizations, the more the public is protected. When most people in a community are immune to a disease, the chance of outbreak is much lower. This concept is called herd immunity.
Herd immunity especially benefits the limited number of people who cannot, for medical reasons, receive their vaccinations according to the usual schedules, such as those who are immunocompromised.
What Shots Does My High School-aged Child Need?
This is a great question and one which many pediatricians hear. High schoolers should receive an annual influenza (flu) vaccine, as well as an update, or booster, of the Tdap shot. Adolescents should ger their first meningococcal vaccine at ages 11-12, and a booster at age 16.
Additionally, kids in this age group may need protection against HPV, the human papilloma virus. The CDC states that children as young as nine years old and through high school should receive this vaccine to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and future development of cervical, penile, throat and anal cancer due to sexual activity.
What If My Child Gets Behind on Vaccinations?
Health circumstances can delay the administration of some childhood and adolescent vaccines. If this is the case, your pediatrician can get your adolescent up to date on his or her shots by following the CDC’s catch-up vaccine schedule. This schedule tells providers and parents which vaccines are safe for the recovered child and what dosages and intervals are appropriate to provide full immunity.
Vaccinations For Children At BridgeSpan Medicine
Immunization is one of the most important health services in terms of disease prevention and long-term health. That’s why at BridgeSpan Medicine one of our first priorities when seeing a new patient is making sure they are up to date on their vaccinations.
We specialize in treating adolescents entering young adulthood or those ages 15-21 years old. If you have a question about which vaccines your adolescent needs for school, work, or other circumstances, don’t hesitate to come see one of our board-certified pediatricians.
To make an appointment, call us today at (914) 698-5544 or fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to caring for your child as they grow into adulthood!