Teens may not get vaccinations they need

By Tom Nordlie • Published: February 20th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Vaccinations are usually associated with early childhood.

But adolescents need them, too, including boosters and immunizations that can’t be given earlier.

Problem is, some teens don’t get those shots, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers looked at immunization records for almost twenty-four-thousand youngsters between 1997 and 2004.

By age thirteen, they needed three vaccinations for hepatitis B, two for measles-mumps-rubella, and one for tetanus-diphtheria.

The results showed that only seventy-two percent were up to date on hepatitis B, sixty-seven percent on measles-mumps-rubella and thirty-two percent on tetanus-diphtheria.

There is some good news… the kids who joined the study later had higher vaccinations rates than those who started earlier.

Also, national vaccination rates are estimated to be higher than the results here.

So why don’t teens get their vaccinations?

One reason is lack of regular preventive care. That’s common among adolescents.

Other problems include lack of awareness about the need for immunizations, financial barriers and scattered record-keeping.

The researchers suggested three strategies for improvement.

One is promoting the idea that teens see a doctor at least once a year.

Another is encouraging health-care providers to check records and offer immunizations more consistently.

Lastly, school-based vaccination programs should be enhanced, because previous studies suggest they work well.

Regardless of these options, the buck stops with parents.

So if you have teens, see if they’re up-to-date on immunizations.

If not, schedule a doctor’s visit.

At that age at least you won’t have to bribe them with lollipops!