Our frontline nurses, doctors, and health care staff are the heroes of the COVID-19 outbreak. Your bravery has saved so many lives. Now you can do it again and help adolescents on track for their vaccines.
Let’s keep our 11 and 12-year-olds up to date on their vaccines in 2020. Here are 8 ways to keep our pre-teens protected:
- Protect adolescents through vaccination before next school year. We have to protect kids against vaccine-preventable diseases. Tweens need shots to protect against meningitis, HPV cancers, tetanus/diptheria, and the flu. We must use summer to catch up on missed vaccinations due to COVID-19.
- Invite adolescent patients in for their vaccinations this summer. Run patient lists of who is due or overdue. Outreach to patients for well-child visits. Combine telehealth visits with in-person vaccine delivery.
- Let parents know the precautions you’ve taken. Parents need to hear how your facility will protect their child from COVID-19. Share how and if you’re separating well-child and immunization visits from sick child visits.
- Get creative to deliver immunizations safely and efficiently.Restarting adolescent vaccination may depend on your locality. Use standing orders to facilitate vaccination of more patients. Find new means to vaccinate through parking lot clinics, community partnerships, mobile units or other creative solutions. Consider offering adolescent health-only days.
- Bundle Your Recommendation – Bundle your recommendation for all adolescent vaccines, in the same way, on the same day. You can start the vaccine discussion with, “Now that your child is 11, he/she needs three vaccines to help protect against meningitis, HPV cancers, and whooping cough. We’ll give these shots during today’s visit. Do you have any questions about these vaccines?” Read more.
- Be a Champion for Vaccination – Download the Clinician & System Action Guides to help you become a vaccine champion in your office.
- Spread Viral Information – Join the HPV Cancer Free Family Facebook Group to help spread pro-vaccination messages to help keep adolescents on track.
- Set a goal of catching up all your adolescent patients by September 1st. We have to regain ground lost due to COVID-19. Vaccinations are down 40-70%. Our work has urgency. We must protect kids from vaccine-preventable diseases. Anticipate the need for flexibility and adaptability in your plan as COVID-19 may resurface. Your health care team can do this! There has never been a better time to protect children.
Starting at age 11 or 12, the CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children:
HPV vaccination is cancer prevention, and yet only 65% of teens in the United States have received the first dose of the HPV vaccine and less than half (48.6%) of teens in the U.S. are up to date on their HPV vaccinations.[i] Nurses at all practice levels have done an incredible amount of work to protect patients from vaccine-preventable diseases, but there is more to do to increase HPV vaccination rates. We know we can do better to prevent HPV cancers. It’s up to nurses at every practice level to get it done!
Children should get their first dose of this vaccine at age 11 or 12, and then a second dose at 16. The shots protect them from the bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis, a dangerous condition that happens when the tissues around the brain and spinal cord get infected and swell. Meningococcal diseases are rare, but they can spread through casual contact, such as sharing food and drinks or kissing. They can also spread in places where people are living in close quarters, such as college dorms1, and as a result, teens and young adults are at particularly high risk compared with other age groups.
All adolescents age 11 or 12 should get this single shot to protect against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Children get protection for these as babies with a shot called DTaP, but this follow-up booster shot gives them more protection since the first one wears off over time.
Tetanus is a bacterial disease that kids can get through cuts or wounds (like stepping on a rusty nail). The infection can cause painful muscle spasms, breathing problems, paralysis, and even death.
All adolescents age 11 or 12 should get a Tdap shot to protect against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
The Tdap vaccine also prevents diphtheria and pertussis, which both spread through the air with coughs and sneezes. Both can cause dangerous breathing problems. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, can be especially deadly for babies. If an adolescent has younger siblings or spends time around small children, Tdap can keep them from passing whooping cough on to them.
All children age 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year because the flu virus changes every year. Scientists tailor the vaccine to fight the strains they think will be the most common that season. It is especially important for those with diabetes and asthma since the flu is more dangerous for them.
[i] Walker TY, Elam-Evans LD, Yankey D, et al. National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:718–723. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6833a2.