Health officials: Teens need to be vaccinated

Health officials: Teens need to be vaccinated
Officials recommend teens get all three doses of the HPV vaccine. (Source: WALB)
Officials recommend teens get all three doses of the HPV vaccine. (Source: WALB)
Beverly Reid (Source: WALB)
Beverly Reid (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Health officials in Georgia are urging parents to get their teen and preteen vaccinated.

This week is Preteen Vaccination Awareness Week in the state, and officials are using the week to remind parents of the importance of getting their child vaccinated against potentially deadly diseases.

The Georgia Department of Health says though shots may hurt for a moment, they can help prevent diseases that will last much longer.

The CDC recommends the following vaccines:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - three doses
  • Meningococcal Disease

Recent studies by the CDC have shown the HPV vaccine has been effective in reducing the infection rates among teen girls by 64%. That's one of the reasons why officials with the Dougherty County Health Department are pushing the HPV vaccine.

The CDC says nearly 80 million people are infected with HPV, and 14 million are newly infected each year. The disease though is silent, and that's one reason why General Clinic Supervisor Beverly Reid encourages parents to get their children vaccinated.

"It's important because many people walk around with this disease and they don't know that they have it. HPV does not pronounce itself, unless something happens," Reid said.

HPV can lead to other health problems, such as neck and back, and cervical cancers.The vaccine was first introduced in 2006, and reached some controversy among parents, but Reid says the vaccine doesn't promote sexual behaviors and can potentially save a life.

"When you think about it, HPV is the only vaccine that helps prevent cancer. In our lifetime, we have something like this, so why wouldn't you take advantage of it?" Reid said.

The shot is recommended for boys and girls starting at age 11 or 12.

Parents should check to see if their child is up-to-date on their vaccinations by calling their healthcare provider.

To see requirements for vaccinations for school-age children, click here.

Preteen Vaccination Awareness Week continues through March 19.

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