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getting a vaccination in the arm

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important part of keeping yourself and those around you healthy.  Diseases which seemed ancient, like measles, will randomly make a comeback through new strains.  When an outbreak occurs, teens and young adults are at high risk of being exposed to these strains in areas where a large number of people gather, such as schools and college campuses.

Do you know if you’re caught up on your vaccinations? You may think you were covered when you got your basic shots as a child. However, some shots recommended now may not have been recommended when you were younger. Some may be required if you’re travelling out of the country, or if your community is experiencing an outbreak. These vaccinations and booster shots are recommended for teens and young adults to continue to protect them through adulthood.

  • Use the following methods to gather and review your immunization records 
    • Ask a parent or guardian if they have your immunization records or are able to get them from a pediatrician.
    • Contact your pediatrician or provider – Many medical offices you may have visited in the past keep a record of immunization at their office. Some of these records may be available for download or can be picked up at the office.
    • Contact previous schools – Many public and private schools require complete vaccination records prior to admission.  These schools may be able to provide you a copy of the records they received.
  • Review your health records and talk to your provider to determine which vaccines you need.
    • Based on your health and age, your provider will determine which vaccines you should receive and what your vaccination plan looks like.
    • Your doctor will likely use research and the latest guidelines such as the Center for Disease Control’s vaccination guidelines to determine what shots, you are missing or may need a boost for.
  • Know what vaccines may be required for your age group
    • The CDC recommended vaccination guidelines include the following four vaccines for  adolescents starting at age 11
      • Meningococcal vaccines – Meningitis is a condition that occurs when tissues around the brain and spinal cord are infected.   This condition can spread through casual contact and in places where people are living in close quarters, such as dorms, which makes the risk for adolescents particularly high. There are two vaccines available.  
        • MenACWY– a two-dose vaccine that protects against meningitis serogroups A,C,W, and Y.
        • MenB – a two or three-dose vaccine that protects against meningitis serogroup B, starting at age 16, usually required prior to college, especially if you’re living on campus.  
      • HPV – a vaccine that protects against the human papilloma virus, a common virus which affects 14 million people (males and females) every year.  Some strains of this virus can cause several types of cancer (i.e. cervical cancer, penile cancer, throat cancer), or genital warts.  Depending on your age and lifestyle factors, you may receive two or three doses of the vaccine for full protection. 
      • Tdap – one single Tdap vaccine protects against three disease – tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can be caught through deep cuts or wounds, and results in breathing problems, muscle spasms or more severe conditions such as paralysis.  Diphtheria and Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) are spread through the air through coughs and sneezes and can result in dangerous breathing problems. The Tdap vaccine is recommended for adolescents at age 11 or soon after.  After the Tdap, adults should continue routine booster shots every 10 years.
      • Influenza – a single dose of the flu shot is recommended every year for all individuals starting at 6 months of age. A yearly shot is important because strains of the flu change. Each year, scientists are able to create a vaccine based on which strains they think will be the most common in the season.
      • Other vaccines required for some preteens with chronic health conditions or who plan to travel may be required such as the Pneumococcal, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever or Typhoid vaccine.

If you don’t have your immunization records, or are not sure what vaccines you should consider, your health care provider can help you determine which vaccines you need to have administered during a wellness visit.

What questions do I ask? 

  • I’d like to know what vaccinations I should consider at my age?
  • Would you recommend an HPV vaccine for me?
  • How much will the vaccine cost me? Will it be covered by my insurance?
  • I will be travelling to ________. Are there any vaccines I should consider?

How can I learn more?