iStock_000004330324XSmallAs parents, we know making sure our kids eat healthy, are physically active, get plenty of sleep, and have regular physicals is crucial to their overall health. But did you also you know preteen and teens need vaccines that protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases like meningitis, whooping cough and cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV)?

We’re wrapping up National Immunization Awareness Month by revisiting the importance of immunizations for people of all ages, including teens and preteens. When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.

Preteens and teens need the Tdap vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough, the meningitis vaccine that protects against four strains of meningococcal bacteria, and the HPV vaccine that protects against many types of cancers. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a meningococcal B vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months or older, not just preteens and teens, but for parents, too.

You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need.