LOS ANGELES - In honor of Preteen Vaccine Week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is reminding parents, preteens, providers, and community partners about the importance of adolescent immunizations.
“Parents try to guard their children against everything, but as we all know that can be difficult at times. One sure way to protect your teenage children is by vaccinating them against serious diseases,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Preteen vaccines protect adolescents at a time when immunity from some childhood vaccines begins to wear off and when they may be more likely to be exposed to certain diseases, like meningococcal disease. Also, because the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents cervical, oral, and other cancers, getting vaccinated now can protect preteens into their future.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following vaccines for 11-12 year olds:
- One dose of meningococcal vaccine, followed by a booster dose at 16 years of age
- One dose of Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (also known as “whooping cough”)
- Three doses of HPV vaccine, which is recommended for both boys and girls to prevent certain types of cancer
- An annual influenza vaccine
Parents are encouraged to check with their pediatrician to see if their preteens may need other immunizations that were missed, like chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and hepatitis B.
School Immunization Requirements
California law requires that students entering, advancing, or transferring into 7th grade show proof that they received the Tdap vaccine. Due to a change in California law, parents can no longer submit requests for Personal Beliefs Exemptions (PBE) for school immunization requirements. Students entering seventh grade who had a PBE on file before 2016 will need to meet all age- appropriate school immunization requirements before the start of the 2016 school year or be enrolled in an independent study program with no classroom-based instruction or a home-based private school. Students with valid medical exemptions are exempt from these requirements.
“Preventing communicable diseases in children benefits everyone. Adolescents with whooping cough may have a cough for weeks and will miss class, work, and extracurricular activities,” said Dr. Gunzenhauser. “They can also easily spread the disease to infants, who are likely to have serious complications if infected. Sadly, in 2010, four infants in Los Angeles County died from pertussis. Tdap vaccines can protect against deaths like these and keep our teens healthy and in the classroom.”
Resources for Vaccinations
Parents may consult their child’s regular health care provider about all recommended vaccines. Preteen vaccines are covered at no-cost to the patient under most health insurance plans. Those who do not have a regular health care provider or health insurance that covers vaccines can call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 or visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip for referrals to providers offering vaccines at no-cost or a reduced cost.
For more information about preteen immunization recommendations and school requirements, visit:
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov, and follow Public Health on social media at twitter.com/LAPublicHealth, facebook.com/LAPublicHealth, and youtube.com/LAPublicHealth.