As a pediatrician and the Assistant Secretary for Health, I advocate every day to keep children healthy. Vaccination is an amazing tool to do just that. Immunization also helps us improve the well-being of children. Ensuring adolescents receive on-time vaccination is critical so they do not miss out on important activities. This can help to serve their social needs and their mental health.
Vaccinations are often given during preventive care visits. It’s important for adolescents to get this preventive care every year, so we can check on their overall health. Not only will an adolescent get routine vaccines to protect them from diseases such as flu, meningitis, and COVID-19, but they can also get needed screenings, counseling, and other interventions at this time.
This Adolescent Immunization Action Week (AIAW), a yearly observance that encourages parents and health care providers to take action to get all adolescents up to date on their vaccines, I urge you to take action to do this. I ask public health advocates to join in too.
Here’s how you can play a role:
- Parents: If you need one, schedule a wellness visit. Ask your child’s health care provider if your child needs a preventive care visit or any vaccinations. Learn what steps to take before the vaccine appointment to feel more prepared and help your child feel more comfortable at the appointment.
- Providers: Use AIAW as a call to action to communicate about missed well child visits and the importance of staying updated on vaccinations. You can also use electronic health records to contact parents to schedule adolescent immunizations and schedule vaccination clinics during spring break or AIAW.
- Public Health Advocates: Spread the word about the importance of staying up to date on routine immunization using the materials on the Catch-Up to Get Ahead Toolkit or the AIAW website.
We can all take steps during AIAW, which lasts from April 3rd – 7th, to advance the health of adolescents by ensuring on-time immunization. By working together, we can help to prevent outbreaks, save lives, and advance the overall health of all adolescents.