Getting caught up on immunizations is as much a part of school as studying for tests or doing homework. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is promoting preteen vaccinations in an effort to remind families of preteens about recommended vaccines such has the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
"In order to ensure our youth grow up healthy, it is vital that we protect them through immunizations," said Olga Dazzo, director of the MDCH. "By keeping our preteens up to date on their vaccinations, we are giving them the protection they need for a healthy future."
Many adolescents in Michigan are missing recommended vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, which protects against serious diseases such as cervical cancer. If your preteen is 11 or older, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine recommend the vaccination to protect against the serious diseases caused by the HPV virus.
"HPV causes multiple sexually transmitted diseases that can be prevented," said Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive at MDCH. "Michigan preteens and teenagers, both males and females, need to get vaccinated against this virus if they haven't already done so. Moreover, it takes three shots over a six month period to complete the series so it's important to begin and complete all three doses."
According to the 2010 National Immunization Survey for Teens, only 49.4 percent of 13-17-year-old females in Michigan have been vaccinated with one or more doses of HPV vaccine. Only 25.2 percent of 13-17-year-old females have been vaccinated with the recommended three or more doses of HPV vaccine.
If your preteen has missed doses at age 11 or 12, it's not too late to start the series. Catch-up vaccination is recommended for females 13-26 years of age, males 13-21 years of age, and males aged 22-26 years within a high risk group who have not been previously vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination also can be considered for all other males aged 22-26 years.
While it's easy to get very busy with school, activities, work, and all of the juggling families do, parents should take action now for the sake of their children's health. Take advantage of any visit to the doctor to ask about what vaccines your preteens and teens need. Preteens and teens also need vaccines to protect against meningitis, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and influenza.
If your child does not have health insurance, or does not have insurance that covers these vaccines, ask your health care provider or local health department about the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. VFC provides no- or low-cost vaccines to eligible children, 18 and younger. For more information on what vaccines your child may need, talk to your health care provider or visit www.michigan.gov/teenvaccines.