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(Placerville, CA) – The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Division is reminding parents of the importance of preteen vaccinations. "Vaccines are one of the best ways to avoid serious and deadly diseases, and can even stop some types of cancer," said Dr. Nancy Williams, El Dorado County Public Health Officer. "Ensuring that preteens have the vaccines they need can protect them now and into adulthood."
According to Dr. Williams, many adolescents missed out on important vaccines during the COVID pandemic, putting them at risk for catching infectious diseases that can have devastating effects on their health. "Now is the time to catch up on the vaccines that youth may have missed," said Dr. Williams.
Several vaccines are important for preteen adolescents, including the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and the varicella vaccine, which protects against chicken pox. Per California State law, incoming 7th grade students must provide proof of having received a Tdap vaccine, as well as two doses of the chicken pox vaccine before starting school.
The meningitis vaccine (MenACWY) and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are also recommended for preteens. The MenACWY vaccine protects against 4 strains of the meningococcal bacteria which cause meningitis -- an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent cancer-causing infections and pre-cancers caused by the human papillomavirus. It is estimated that the human papillomavirus causes nearly 37,000 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S.
The COVID-19 vaccine, including the updated (bivalent) COVID booster, is also recommended for preteens. The flu vaccine is recommended annually for everyone 6 months or older, including preteens. Dr. Williams reminds parents, "If you haven't done so already, ask your doctor about the vaccines your preteen needs. Vaccines are safe and effective. They are made available only after careful review by health experts and doctors. By ensuring our kids stay up to date on vaccinations, we protect our children, families, and communities from serious, life-threatening illnesses."
According to Dr. Williams, under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to cover childhood and CDC-recommended vaccines for all ages without charging deductibles or copayments. "Any child without coverage should be able to get vaccinations without creating a financial burden," said Dr. Williams. "Parents can contact their healthcare provider or our County Public Health Division for information about the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), which provides free vaccines to eligible kids."
To reach the El Dorado County Public Health Division, please call (530) 621-6100 on the West Slope of El Dorado County or (530) 573-3155 in the South Lake Tahoe area. For more information about vaccines for children, including preteens, please visit www.ShotsForSchool.org or www.GetImmunizedCA.org.
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