Vaccinations are not just for infants: they’re for adolescents, as well.
• Influenza vaccine is recommended annually for all children and adolescents, 6 months to 18 years. The best time to receive it is at the beginning of flu season, however, the vaccination can be given later.
• Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adolescents age 11-12 and at age 13-18 if not previously vaccinated. In addition, college freshman who plan to live in dormitories should be revaccinated.
• Human Papillo-mavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended for females age 11 to 12, but the vaccine (a three-dose series) can be administered as young as age 9. A catch-up shot is recommended for females aged 13 to 26 who have not been vaccinated.
• Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap) is recommended for all adolescents age 11 to 12 who have not received a tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (Td) booster dose. Adolescents age 13 to 18 who missed the 11 to 12 Tdap dose, or received Td only, are encouraged to receive a Tdap 5 years after their last Td/DTaP.
• Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine: All children should receive two doses of the varicella vaccine at age 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years. Because the risk for transmission can be high among students in schools, those without evidence of immunity should receive two doses of varicella vaccine and those who received it previously should receive a second.
• Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all children and adolescents who didn’t receive the hepatitis B vaccine series as infants.
• Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR): All children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first is recommended at ages 12 to 15 months and the second at ages 4 to 6. If not received previously, children and adolescents age 7 to 18 should be vaccinated.
These recommendations may not apply to everyone, in every case, so parents should be sure and talk to their health care provider about what’s right for their child.
A regular eye exam is also a crucial part of back to school planning and a successful school experience. While most parents schedule annual physicals and dental appointments, it’s easy to overlook an annual eye exam as an essential part of any preventive health routine.
According to some studies, adolescents with low vision were involved in fewer activities than their “sighted” peers, didn’t regularly spend much time with friends and were dependent on their parents for transportation. Studies also show that 80 percent of learning in children occurs visually, and approximately one in four school-aged children have visual disabilities which affects their ability to learn.
For more information on vision, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recently added the Eye Health Resource Center to its website, www.anthem.com. This educational tool, which is available to all consumers, features a series of videos ranging from how the eye works to diseases of the eye to eye health. The website also includes preventive health guidelines, including a complete recommended immunization schedule in the myhealth@Anthem section of the Web site.