Preparing for back-to-school: backpacks, new jeans and vaccines

(BPT) - Summer is a time when kids and parents get to take a break from the school year routine and have a moment to enjoy some ice cream, the outdoors and family time. But parents know that just as everyone begins focusing on fun, it’s already time to begin planning back-to-school to-do lists and prepare for the coming school year.

Back-to-school tasks for parents of pre-teens and teens often include such items as stocking up on school supplies, purchasing some new wardrobe items, coordinating extracurricular activities and organizing fall schedules. But getting prepared to go back to school also presents a great opportunity to talk with your child’s health care professional about recommended vaccines for your pre-teen or teen boys and girls.

As children get older and become pre-teens and teens they can be at risk for other diseases for which vaccines are available. Children tend to have fewer regular visits with their health care professional as they get older and visits are usually for sports physicals or because of illness. These types of visits, in addition to wellness checkups, can be used as an opportunity to ask about vaccines.

“Many parents know to vaccinate their children when they are younger, but there are some parents that may not know that there are vaccines that are also recommended for older children,” says Registered Nurse Beth Battaglino, Chief Executive Officer of HealthyWomen. “The school year can be hectic, so I encourage parents to use the summer break to make appointments with their child’s health care professional or take advantage of already scheduled appointments to discuss vaccines and their dosing schedules that are recommended for their pre-teens and teens.”

Vaccines are recommended not only for children, pre-teens and teens, but across an individual’s entire lifetime to help maintain health and wellness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccines to help prevent more than 15 diseases, and has vaccination schedules that cover children, pre-teens, teens, and adults. According to the World Health Organization, vaccines help prevent more than 30 infectious diseases worldwide.

To learn more about vaccines for all stages of life, people are urged to talk to their health care professional and visit The website provides information from Merck about the importance of vaccination, how vaccines are developed, approved and manufactured, and infectious diseases for which there are vaccines. It also offers a resource that can be used when talking to a health care professional about vaccination.