Back to Blog Home >>
The average teenager might think they’re invincible, and who would want to tell them otherwise? But when it comes to keeping them safe and healthy, pre-teens to college-age children still need the practical oversight of their parents or caregivers. That’s why Florida Blue
has created a special six-part podcast series focused exclusively on health issues that can impact teens. Our Teen Health series expert is Senior Medical Director, Carmella Sebastian, M.D. This first talk features the vaccinations required for this age group and explains what the vaccinations protect against.
In this short 11 minute episode, you’ll hear more information about these specific immunizations:
We encourage you to speak with your child’s pediatrician to review which of these might be right for your child. If you are a Florida Blue member, log into your member account
to check the benefits associated with these vaccinations. And be sure to check back here for five more installments of our Teen Health series, coming to you throughout August 2014!
The complete transcript of the audio recording starts here:
Welcome to Florida Blue Radio where we explore health care topics important to you. Whether you run a business, are a health practitioner, or are an individual interested in how health care is evolving, experts from across Florida Blue will keep you in the know. In today's session, we begin our series on teen health with Florida Blue's Senior Medical Director, Dr. Camilla Sebastian. Dr. Sebastian will share information on the most common health issues concerning our teens and empower parents with ways to talk to their teens about them. Our host is Kate Warnock, Social Business Strategist at Florida Blue. Now, here's Kate.
So, I'm so thrilled today to have one of our senior medical directors here with us to talk about a topic that we might take for granted. And that's the health and safety of our teenagers. Dr. Sebastian is going to share with us over the next several series conversations that we might want to share with our own teens about health issues that are specific to them. So Dr. Sebastian, welcome to the series.
Thank you so much Kate.
And I think that we'll start today with the basics. Let's maybe start with vaccination. So Dr. Sebastian, are we done with vaccines once our kids hit middle school?
Well, when we think of vaccinations, we usually focused on our newborns and our young children-- getting all those vaccinations in so that they get into school on time. Examples like measles, mumps, and rubella-- everybody is pretty much set on those vaccinations. Or we focus on senior population and we stress the importance of the flu vaccine or the pneumococcal vaccine. But we don't often think about are teenagers and young adults.
As the kids get older, protection from some childhood vaccines actually begins to wear off. Plus older kids can develop risks for other diseases. Health checkups and sport or camp physicals are excellent opportunities for your preteens and your teens to get recommended vaccines.
Can you maybe share what the ones are for this particular age group that we can help parents know that they want to talk to their doctor about?
Yes. Well, these are some of the most important ones as we get into the preteen and the teen years. So the first one would be a vaccine called Tdap, T-d-a-p, at ages 11 or 12 for protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, which is also whooping cough.
Protection is provided by the vaccines that kids receive in childhood, but it wears off as kids get older. So preteens and teens need a booster shot and that's known as Tdap, T-d-a-p. Getting the booster not only protect the preteens and teens, but also the people around them, especially little babies who haven't finished their life cycle of vaccines yet and older people, especially those that may have chronic illnesses.
That's a good point. OK.
If you have a teen who is 13 to 18 years old and they haven't gotten the Tdap shot yet, you should definitely talk with your doctor about getting it now.
The second one we should talk about is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. And that's referred to as MCV4. And it protects against some of the bacteria that causes meningococcal diseases, such as meningitis or sepsis, which is a bloodstream infection-- so infection in the blood.
This vaccine is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12. And then a booster shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue providing protection when their risk for these types of diseases is higher. And every year you hear about at least one or two teenagers or college students getting meningitis. And it can be very, very serious. So we want to make sure we protect are our teens.
Teens who received the MVC4 for the first time at age 13 through 15 will need a one- time booster dose at 16 through 18. If the teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, they should ask the doctor about getting it now, especially if they are going to go into college and live in a dorm or military barracks.
Now, the third one we should talk about is HPV, which is human papillomavirus vaccine. And most people have heard about this. This protects against the diseases that are caused by the human papillomavirus virus. And human papillomavirus causes genital warts. And there's two strains particularly, of 100 strains of HPV that are strongly linked to genital cancer. And that's strain 16 and strain 18. And this vaccine protects against them.
It's recommended for preteen girls and boys. And the recommendation for the boys came out after the recommendation for the girls. But it's recommended for both at age 11 or 12 years. If a teenager or young adult age 13 through 26 has not gotten any or all of the shots when they were younger, they should ask the doctor about getting them now.
So Dr. Carmella, let me stop you for just a moment. Did you say that this vaccination actually helps to protect against certain forms of cancer?
Yes it does. It protects against genital cancers like cervical cancer and even penile cancer.
Well, that's pretty compelling. OK.
It is very compelling. It's the only vaccine we know about that actually protects and can prevent cancer. So of course, I have two daughters, and they were vaccinated as soon as they were of age to get the vaccine. And of course, you have to get three doses to really be protected. Three doses were given over six months. And you really want to get kids early, because you want them before their first sexual contact, so they have time to develop protection from the vaccine.
And really some people think, well is this encouraging teenagers to have premarital sex? And the fact is, no it's not. It's never been linked to that outcome. And in fact, it gives you a great opportunity to have that talk that you're going to have to have anyway with your teenagers.
So tell me again, what is the ideal age then for these teens-- it almost sounds like a preteen.
Yes it is. It's 11 or 12 years. Well, usually, your doctor will start talking to you about it when the children are like 9, 10 years old.
So probably even earlier than most parents even want to think about as far as what this is. But again, I guess the protection that it affords and the fact that it can actually protect against cancer later in life, it's worth a conversation.
Absolutely, there's been a lot of press over the past couple of years when Michael Douglas came out and started talking about his throat cancer and how they have linked it to HPV. And so this is not something to take lightly. Definitely, this vaccination can absolutely prevent cancer.
Alright, well that's outstanding. So tell us then, are there any other vaccinations that we should be talking about with our teenagers?
Well, one of the other ones that I wanted to talk about was the flu vaccine. And every one six months of age or older should be getting a flu vaccine every year. It's especially important for kids that have asthma or diabetes and really helps decrease their risk of serious complications from the flu.
Because for the normal kid that doesn't have any other comorbidities, they might get the flu and be down for a couple of days, not feel well. But for a kid that has asthma or some other immunosuppression going on in their body, they definitely can be very, very sick from the flu. So preteen and teen should get a flu vaccine in the fall or as soon as it's available. And the risks and benefits of the vaccine, you can go on CDC website and they have wonderful information out there.
There's actually two types of vaccine. So even if you don't want to get the shot in the arm, some people can actually get the nasal spray flu vaccine, usually called flu mist. And that actually is just sprayed up the nose, so you don't actually have to get the shot. I have one daughter who was always afraid of getting the needle, so one time she got the flu vaccine up the nose. And she was thrilled that she didn't have to get the needle.
That's a good compromise.
It's a very good compromise. And like I said, there's a lot of great information on www.cdc.gov.
Well, that's terrific. And we'll make sure that we have that site listed in our blog for all the parents who might want do follow-up research on the flu vaccination or any of the others that you've mentioned here today. So--
I'm so grateful for your time today, and look forward to talking about our next topic that's of special concern to our teenage population and that's car safety. So thank you again for your time today Dr. Sebastian and look forward to our next talk.
Thank you. OK.
You've been listening to Florida Blue radio, recorded at our Jacksonville headquarters. For notes from today's program, visit our blog at FloridaBlue.com. Be sure to leave us a comment there with your ideas or suggestions for future programs. Until next time, here's to you and your pursuit of health.