For many families, the end of summer means back-to-school preparation. With that comes shopping lists, signing up for sports and clubs, and making the most of the last days before school begins. The end of summer is also a great time to schedule your child’s annual well-child visit and make sure they are up to date on recommended immunizations for adolescents.
We’re born with immune systems that can fight most germs, but there are some diseases our bodies can’t handle alone. Vaccines work with our immune systems to help prevent many diseases, including hepatitis A and B, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, COVID-19, and more. As kids head back to school and are exposed to more germs, vaccines offer an important layer of protection.
There are different types of vaccines that work in different ways to offer protection from illness. Some vaccines use very small amounts of antigens, or parts of germs, to help our bodies recognize and fight illness. Scientific breakthroughs over the past 30 years allow vaccines to provide protection against more diseases using fewer antigens. Today, vaccines use 305 antigens to protect against 14 diseases by age two. Thirty years ago, vaccines used 3,000 antigens to protect against 8 diseases by the same age.
Certain COVID-19 vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies, like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. These are called messenger RNA(mRNA) vaccines.
Today, vaccines use only the ingredients that are necessary to make the vaccine, trigger an immune response, or ensure that the final product is safe and effective. Studies continue to show there is no linkbetween vaccines and autism.
Different vaccination schedules are recommended for different age groups. That’s because not all
vaccinations are appropriate for all ages. Below is the recommended teen vaccination schedule for youth
ages 7 to 18:
Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Some state laws outline which vaccines are required for school, and these may vary by location. Colorado requires all students attending Colorado schools to be vaccinated against certain diseases, unless an exemption is filed.
Vaccines are the best and safest way to protect us from many diseases and severe illnesses. Minor side effects, like a mild fever or soreness, are common. No vaccine is perfect, and it is possible to contract an illness after being vaccinated. However, natural infections can cause severe complications and can even be deadly. Children with certain medical conditions may have special vaccine considerations. Talk to your child’s health care provider about keeping your child up to date on vaccinations and having a safe and healthy school year.