Good health is not a long shot, if your child gets vaccinated

Whether starting junior high or heading off to college, back-to-school is a time for your child to start fresh. That includes making sure your children are up-to-date on immunizations.

“Immunizations, or vaccines, expose your immune system to killed or weakened versions of harmful germs,” says Marcus Baratian, MD, Pediatrician with Healthy Kids Pediatrics in Streetsboro. “That way, your body’s natural defenses build up protection before you are infected with disease-causing bacteria or viruses.”

The government recommends a series of immunizations that begins in infancy and includes booster shots for school-age children. But older adolescents, such as preteens, teens and college students still need immunizations, too.

Before the start of the school year, Dr. Baratian suggests taking a look at the following list of recommended immunizations and checking with your older child’s doctor to make sure he or she is on schedule.

Preteens and teens (ages 7 to 18)

Serious, life-threatening diseases that affect babies can also strike older children. “In some cases, the protection from infant vaccines has worn off by the preteen years,” explains Dr. Baratian. “And school-age kids are at higher risk for conditions such as meningitis and HPV.”

The following vaccines are recommended for your preteens and teens:

  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis): 11 to18 years old (preferably 11 to 12 years) for children who have had all their DTaP shots; 7 to 10 years old for children who have not
  • HPV: 11 or 12 years old, three doses for both males and females
  • Meningococcal: one dose at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster at age 16
  • Flu: Yearly

Dr. Baratian says, “These are also prime years to catch up on any missed childhood vaccines. Talk with your child’s pediatrician to ensure your child is up-to-date.”

Young adults (ages 19 to 24)

Leaving home, starting college, beginning a new life – there are lots of beginnings during young adulthood. “Some of these transitions increase the risk for certain illnesses,” says Dr. Baratian. Doctors recommend that young adults get:

  • One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, to protect against meningitis for students living in dorms or other group situations
  • Tdap vaccine, varicella, HPV and MMR, if they do not have evidence of getting these shots in childhood
  • A yearly flu shot

The 411 on the HPV vaccine

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against a virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. It is recommended that girls and boys be vaccinated for HPV between the ages of 11 and 12 years. The vaccine also is recommended for young women and men between the ages of 13 and 26 who have not been previously vaccinated.

Get your child’s vaccinations up-to-date

UH Rainbow Care Network’s pediatric and family medicine practices provide convenient access to high-quality primary care for children at more than 70 locations.


Pediatrician, Healthy Kids Pediatrics, Streetsboro
Clinical Instructor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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