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Immunizations Don't Stop in Elementary School

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Meningitis related image Photo: Getty Images

When our son was an infant, I remember diligently storing his immunization schedule card in the file cabinet, and having it ready for the nurse whenever he received his next scheduled round of shots. As a teacher, I send home immunization informational flyers from our school nurse, and on occasion, help new families understand public school requirements regarding immunizations. Most recently, as a mother of a matriculating college freshman, I was reminded that the immunization schedule for our children continues through 18 years of age.

At the end of this article, I will include a link to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommended immunization schedule—an important reminder on a lengthy sequence of childhood medicines. Right now, I will focus on two of the more recent vaccines that were added to the schedule: the meningitis vaccine (MCV4) and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Meningitis, or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord tissues, is caused by either bacterial or viral infections. It is airborne contagious and can be misdiagnosed since early symptoms resemble the flu. The attending doctor will perform a spinal tap to get a spinal fluid sample. The fluid is tested for signs of inflammation and to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. Complications from this illness include neurological damage that can affect hearing or vision. As a college kid, moving into the dorm this summer, our Patrick will receive a meningitis vaccine. Pat hasn’t had this vaccine, and since he is otherwise healthy, one dose is considered enough to protect him in case there is an outbreak in his dorm. Currently, it is recommended that healthy 11-year-olds receive the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (MCV4.) If your student is older and hasn’t received MCV4, your doctor may advise it, if he or she be living in a dorm type setting, like at college or summer camp.

In 2007, the genital human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was introduced to combat the transmission of this sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer or genital warts. The CDC reported that 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer, while 1 percent of sexually active adults present with genital warts. The CDC recommends that girls aged 11 or 12 be immunized with the first dose. The second dose is given one or two months after that, and the final one three months after that. Boys can also receive the immunizations to guard against genital warts or anal cancer.

As always, consult with your child’s doctor in case of special health circumstances that would change how your child receives these vaccines.

2011 child and adolescent immunization schedules:




Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have a friend who was just diagnosed with HPV and it is a scary thing to go through..but life is still worth living so lets get on with it!!!!
FYI: STDdatings - #1 community for STD dating & support

May 10, 2011 - 7:54pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous, life sure is worth living! Good luck to you and your friend.

May 11, 2011 - 5:36pm

It is great to see a story promoting the benefits of the meningitis and HPV vaccinations. As a parent who lost her college age son to meningitis, there were no recommendations at the time. To update the information in this post, a few months ago the CDC revised its recommendations for meningitis. The vaccine is now recommended for all 11-12 year olds with a booster dose in five years. All kids going off to college should be vaccinated. After my son died, I started the National Meningitis Association to make sure this didn't happen to other families. Please visit our Web site at www.nmaus.org for more information. Don't take a chance with the life of your child.

May 10, 2011 - 8:40am
(reply to lynni)

Thank you for your link to this important source of information on meningitis. I applaud you, Lynn!

May 11, 2011 - 5:34pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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