Many kids are behind… now is the time to make sure that their vaccinations are up to date.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. One of the most important things parents can do for their children and teenagers is to get them vaccinated — of course for COVID-19 if they are eligible, but also according to the recommended immunization schedule.
Routine vaccination rates among children and teens dropped significantly in 2020 during the pandemic and still haven’t caught up yet, according to a new CDC report. Some pediatric vaccinations fell by over 60%!
As we all know by now, child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to disease outbreaks. While masks and social distancing will still be in play this fall, children in these settings can still spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, lax mask wearing and interacting in crowded environments. Without vaccines, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classrooms and communities – this can include infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems.
Parents should check with their child’s doctor, school or the local health department to learn about vaccine requirements in their area.
Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and bloodstream infections (septicemia). Preteens and teens need two doses – the first when they are 11 or 12 and a second dose at age 16.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV. A series of two doses usually begins when your child is 11 or 12.
- Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). The first dose is needed at age 11 or 12, with a booster every ten years.
- An annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu
There are two types of Meningococcal vaccines. Discuss with your healthcare provider whether your child needs one or both.
Will children under 12 be able to get the COVID vaccine this year? It’s unclear. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna are still doing clinical trials to see how coronavirus vaccines work in children under 12 — if they’re safe and what the right dose should be.