Though measles, mumps and whooping cough seem outdated, teenagers are exposed to them every day on college campuses and in large groups. These diseases are among the many that parents can prevent by making sure their teenage children are properly vaccinated. Though it may seem like all of your child’s immunizations were taken care of in elementary school, many shots are meant specifically for adults and long-term protection.
Doctors recommend that teens should be vaccinated against the following diseases:
- Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Chickenpox (if he or she has not had the disease)
Many of these diseases affect adults more than children. For example, chickenpox can be much more dangerous for adults than children. Hepatitis B attacks the liver, which could end in death. Making sure your child is vaccinated could save his or her life.
Recently, doctors have begun to strongly recommend the HPV vaccine for boys ages 11-21 and girls ages 11-26. This vaccine protects against infections that can lead to numerous cancers in both men and women and heart disease. Though HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, most infected people do not know they have it due to a lack of symptoms. Because of this, many people with HPV can pass the infection to others without knowing it.
The HPV vaccine is given as three injections over six months. Because the vaccine does not protect against people who have been infected with HPV before being vaccinated, beginning the shots before having sex for the first time is the most effective way to prevent the infection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the vaccine as safe.
Like any medication, vaccines may cause side effects. However, receiving a vaccination is far safer than getting the disease it prevents. The most common reactions include soreness, redness and swelling in the area of the shot or a low-grade fever.
Though shots can still be scary for teenagers, it is vital to protect your child with these immunizations. The shot will only last a moment, but your child will be protected from life-threatening diseases for decades to come.
For more information on improving your family’s health in 2013, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/family/ or the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital website, www.etch.com.