Important Vaccination Recommendations and Updates for Teens, Preteens

By Robin Schuckman, CNP, certified nurse practitioner at TriHealth Physician Practice Northcreek


As you make your back-to-school lists, take note of new vaccine guidelines for preteens and teens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced two new recommendations this past year – one for meningitis and one for HPV vaccine. Each extends earlier protection to young people.

Meningitis Vaccine Required for Ohio Middle Schoolers

Beginning fall 2017, Ohio students must receive the bacterial meningitis vaccine before they enter seventh grade and a second vaccine before entering 12th grade. Most schools allow a two-week grace period for students who haven’t received the vaccine by the first day of school.

Bacterial meningitis, a rare but often deadly disease that attacks the lining of the brain and spinal cord, is more likely to spread where groups gather, including classrooms, locker rooms or dorms.

Students previously received the vaccine before entering college dorm life, but the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices aims to reduce cases of bacterial meningitis in adolescence and early adulthood.

Those entering seventh grade also must get a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster shot called Tdap, according to a 2010 Ohio law. 

HPV Vaccine Reduced to Two Doses Before Age 15

Young people receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine now need only two vaccine doses if they receive the first dose before age 15. Those ages 15 to 26 must receive three doses for maximum effectiveness. The vaccine isn’t recommended after age 26. 

About 79 million Americans have HPV, with 14 million new cases each year.

Because HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, some parents wonder why their children should receive the vaccine so early. The ideal time to receive the first dose is between ages 11 and 12, when the immune system most effectively builds antibodies. A second dose is given six to 12 months later. The highest occurrence of HPV is in sexually active adolescents and young adults.

The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent the spread of HPV and provide lifetime protection against nine high-risk strains of HPV that can potentially cause cancer in both men and women. The direct link between HPV and certain cancers is high:

  • 91 percent of diagnosed cases of cervical cancer and 93 percent of diagnosed cases of anal cancer in women are attributable to HPV. Treatment for pre-cancer and cancer brought on by HPV can also interfere with fertility.
  • 72 percent of oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer in men is attributable to high-risk HPV. The virus can also cause cancer of the penis.

The vaccine works best for those who haven’t acquired or come in contact with the HPV virus already, but it can still help protect against other high-risk strains even if a person has had an HPV infection.

With HPV cancer-related statistics and increasing numbers of abnormal Pap smears, the HPV vaccine provides an opportunity to protect your child from this infection.

Other Vaccine Facts

  • If you’re six months or older, get a flu shot each year. Flu lasts anywhere from five to seven days, and it can lead to serious complications for the very young and very old, and people with compromised immune systems.
  • The four vaccines for entering kindergarten remain the same: 1) chicken pox, 2) polio, 3) measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) and 4) diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) for children under seven years.
  • The Ohio-funded Vaccines for Children program offers free vaccines through participating doctors’ offices and local health departments for Medicaid-eligible and uninsured children.

As we’re working to make our society as healthy as we can, immunizations offer a safe, proven tool to prevent serious diseases and protect our families and loved ones.

Tags Parenting