Tweens, teens need vaccines before school

Aug. 30, 2012 at 2:20 PM
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DALLAS, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Tweens and teens, who may think that their days of getting back-to-school shots are behind them, should roll up their sleeves, a U.S. pediatrician says.

Dr. Rashmi Shetgiri, a pediatrician at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Children's Medical Center Dallas, said older students need immunizations, but too often skip recommended vaccines.

Shetgiri recommended this age group be protected by the following vaccines: tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis; two doses of meningococcal to prevent meningitis, the first one recommended as a toddler and second at age 16; human papilloma virus to prevent cervical cancer; and a flu shot.

"A pertussis, or whooping cough, booster is important because outbreaks have occurred in several states, especially among pre-teens, teens, and in babies," Shetgiri said in a statement. "The dose is recommended at ages 11-12 because the immunity from the vaccines received during childhood can start wearing off. Pertussis infections in teens can cause prolonged, sometimes severe, coughing."

Babies 2 months and younger cannot receive the pertussis vaccine, so it's especially important for those around them to be vaccinated so they do not unintentionally pass on the infection, Shetgiri said.

Other healthy habits that teens should adopt include: Good hand-washing hygiene, eating a nutritious diet, getting adequate physical activity and sleep and having a yearly check-up, Shetgiri added.

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