Back to School: Got your shot?

August 9, 2017

Are you and your children on top of receiving your vaccinations?  August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time to remind oneself of the importance of receiving vaccines—and not just in the early stages of life. Being up to date with your vaccinations is important for avoiding serious illnesses, as well as preventing others from becoming ill.

August is also an opportune time as many children and adolescents are preparing to go back to school. Below are the vaccines recommended for children at various ages, according to the National Institutes of Health.[1]

  • Tdap:A booster to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Recommended for preteens (11-12), as well as any teens (13-18) who haven’t gotten this shot yet.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4):Protects against meningococcal disease. First dose is recommended at age 11 or 12 followed by a booster (2nd shot) at age 16-18.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine:Protects against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine is given in three doses over a 6-month period to boys and girls starting at 11-12 years.
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine:Protects against different strains of seasonal influenza. A yearly dose is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

In addition, humans over the age of 60 are recommended to receive a zoster vaccination, regardless of whether or not they have had zoster herpes.

Vaccines have been one of the most significant medical developments in the past century, helping eradicate deadly diseases such as smallpox and substantially reducing cases of other diseases such as polio. Continuing to vaccinate throughout one’s life will protect against these diseases and others.

[1] A useful one-pager at