How many of you remember the big transition from elementary to middle school? I remember how nervous I was about changing classrooms and not having a single room to be in all day. I remember going shopping for school clothes that were going to reflect the level of maturity I felt leaving elementary school behind. There are lots of thing to do to get ready for this transition and one of those things is to get the immunizations required by the school for Middle School admission. As kids get older, protection from some childhood vaccines begins to wear off. Plus, older kids can also develop risks for other diseases. Health check-ups and sports or camp physicals can be a good opportunity for your preteens and teens to get the recommended vaccines.
Tdap is the vaccine for Tetanus, Dipthereis and Pertussis. Most children get these immunizations prior to going to Kindergarten and by the time they are in 6th grade, the immunity for this is waning. Because of waning immunity and having groups of children this age being together in school, 1/3 of the patients in apertussis outbreak are usually middle school age. The Academy of Pediatrics thought that to best protect these students, they needed a booster dose of Tdap prior to going to Middle School. The other immunization that is recommend is Varicella or Chickenpox vaccine. Middle school age children that have not had the 2nd Varicella vaccine need to get one. The guidelines have changed and children that are now going into Kindergarten get their 2nd Varicella vaccine prior to school entry. To catch up the children that have missed the benefit of increased immunity to chickenpox, the middle school entry was used to catch up on that vaccine.
Other adolescent vaccines to consider is the Meningicoccal Vaccine to prevent some types of meningitis and the HPV vaccine to prevent cancers caused by the Human Papilloma Virus. This vaccine needs to be given prior to any sexual activity to build immunity to the HPV. Getting a healthy start in Middle School is a step in the right direction for a good school experience. Check with your health care provider or go to www.cdc.gov for adolescent immunization information.