Keeping your teenager immunized is a must do for back to school

Published 3:54 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month reminds us that back-to-school means more than backpacks

While we’re still enjoying the spoils of summer, before we know it we’ll start getting our adolescents ready to return to school. School supplies and backpacks, new tennis shoes and after school activities. It’s an energized, hopeful time. And it’s a perfect time to make sure our children are current on their vaccinations.

July is Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month here in North Carolina. The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, the NC Pediatric Society and the North Carolina Division of Public Health are partnering for a month-long awareness campaign to help North Carolinians of all ages, but especially our young people, make sure they are protected from certain vaccine-preventable diseases.

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“When not vaccinated, our teens are at significantly higher risk for diseases, and can spread those diseases into their school community,” NC Academy of Family Physicians President Charles Rhodes, MD, FAAFP, said. “Preteen and teenagers face potentially life-threatening diseases including meningitis and cancers caused by HPV.”

As children move into adolescence, the potential to contract certain diseases increases, making the importance of keeping immunizations current even greater. For our preteens ages 11 through 12, there are four recommended vaccines, some of which are required for school entry in North Carolina:

• Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4) protects against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease.

• Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect girls and boys from  HPV infection and  cancers caused by HPV.

• Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

• Influenza (flu) vaccine, remember everyone 11-12 years of age should get a flu vaccine every year, even healthy kids.  

Immunizations continue through the teen years. A booster dose of (MCV4) is needed at age 16 to maintain protection against bacteria that can cause meningococcal disease.

Depending on risk factors, some teens may need serogroup B meningococcal vaccine as well. The bottom line: talk to your pediatrician or family physician about what may be appropriate for your teenager.

“It’s easy to keep your adolescent immunized,” said Scott St. Clair, MD, FAAP, President of the NC Pediatric Society. “You can use any health care visit, including for sports or camp physicals, checkups and sick visits to have your pre-teen or teen vaccinated. We suggest keeping a conversation open with your health care professional to know the what and when of your adolescent immunizations.“

Join us in making sure our young stay healthy. Get more information and learn about the recommended immunization schedule at, and

– article submitted by Gregory K. Griggs, MPA, CAE/NC Academy of Family Physicians