Report Roundup: Media encourages parents to stay up to date on teens' vaccines

Vaccines are an important way to stop the spread of preventable diseases, yet vaccination rates continue to lag behind public health targets, particularly for adolescent vaccines that require more than one dose. This month’s Mott Poll report showed how parents’ lack of awareness about what vaccines their teens need may contribute to lower vaccination rates for adolescents. Media outlets across the country have been contributing to the conversation. Here’s a roundup of the coverage.

“When is my teen’s next vaccine?”

Over one-third of parents in the Mott Poll reported they don’t know when their teen’s next vaccine is due. During the early childhood years, vaccines are usually timed with well-child visits. But as children get older, visits & vaccines don’t always coincide. This was highlighted in a Parents Magazine piece: Many parents aren’t aware their teens need crucial vaccines. Reporter Melissa Willets discusses the difficulty of keeping up with the schedules, as well child appointments don’t happen as often when children are older. According to Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, “Many teens may be missing out on important vaccines simply because families aren’t aware it’s time for one.”

“Who notifies me that my teen needs another vaccine?”

Parents in the Mott Poll look to health care providers to guide them on vaccinations, as half of parents thought their teens’ doctor would contact them when their teen’s next vaccination was due. This was the focus of a CafeMom article: Yes, your teen still needs vaccines -- & they might be missing important ones. Reporter and mom of a teenager, Jacqueline Burt Cote, discussed her own experiences with health care provider guidance on vaccinating her daughter. She was surprised when her teen’s doctor said her daughter was due for a meningitis vaccine, as she thought her daughter was done receiving vaccines. “Parents rely on child health providers to guide them on vaccines – in early childhood and during the teen years,” said Clark. “Given the general lack of awareness about adolescent vaccines shown in this poll, there is a clear need for providers to be more proactive for their teen patients.”

“What vaccines does my teen need?”

What vaccines should parents make sure their teens have received? Adolescent medicine physician Terrill Bravender, MD, MPH, outlines important teen vaccines in a Michigan Health Blog post: Make sure your teen has had these 4 lifesaving vaccines. “We put so much emphasis on vaccines for infants and toddlers that oftentimes the general public forgets that everyone – adults included – needs to continue to receive vaccines,” says Dr. Bravender. “It’s really a lifelong endeavor.” The four vaccines teens should receive are meningitis vaccine, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Tdap vaccine, and annual flu shots. If your teen hasn’t received these vaccines yet, talk with their health care provider about getting them caught up on any they may have missed.

For more information on adolescent vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for a vaccination schedule.