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Checkups and vaccines before school starts: August is National Immunization Month

Aug 1, 2021, 07:00 AM

School is starting soon, and most children and teens will be back to in-person school. Make sure they’re ready by visiting their primary care provider (PCP) for an annual checkup and getting their vaccines up to date. If your child or teen hasn’t been seen by their PCP because of the COVID pandemic, now is a great time to schedule a visit. Providers are ready to see kids and are taking precautions to keep everyone safe. 

August is National Immunization Month, just in time for school. Call your child’s clinic to make an appointment. Vaccines and checkups are fully covered for Columbia Pacific CCO members. Make sure your kids are getting all the care they need — dental and mental health providers are also seeing members in person again. Visit the dentist for a back-to-school cleaning. Call a mental health provider if your teen needs extra support during this confusing and difficult time. Many PCP offices have mental health support available as well. Don’t wait! Take care of your children and yourself before school starts. Given the surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to make sure your kids who are currently eligible (ages 12 and up) get vaccinated. The vaccine can protect them against illness and hospitalization.  

For adolescents, these are the most common vaccines: 

Meningococcal vaccine 

Meningococcal illness refers to one of many types of diseases. It’s not common in the United States, but teens and young adults have a higher risk of getting it. Most often, it involves infections of the brain, spinal cord or bloodstream. Two doses of the vaccine are given when youth are between ages 11 to 16. 

Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine 

This single vaccine — called Tdap or DTaP — protects against three diseases at once:  

  1. Tetanus, sometimes called lockjaw, is caused by bacteria that make the muscles contract in painful ways. It can lead to breathing problems, muscle spasms and being unable to move parts of the body. 
  2. Diphtheria creates a coating in the back of the throat that can become so thick it blocks the airways, making it hard to breathe. It can also lead to heart failure in some cases.  
  3. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious infection in the lungs and breathing tubes.

The sixth and final dose of the Tdap vaccine is often given when children are 11 to 12 years old. 

HPV vaccine 

HPV is short for human papillomavirus, which is a group of viruses that affect 14 million people — including teens — each year. While some of the viruses go away on their own, others can cause different types of cancers. The HPV is usually given in two doses, about six months apart, when kids are ages 11 to 12. 

COVID-19 vaccines 

COVID-19 shocked the world and made life hard for all of us. Hope is on the horizon now that COVID-19 vaccines exist. The vaccines are even more important now, with new variants of the virus being found. COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and effective. Everyone age 12 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. CDC guidelines state that these vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as adolescent vaccines. 

Early childhood immunizations 

When your child sees their PCP for a checkup, make sure they’re up to date on their childhood vaccines, too. It’s your kids missed certain shots when they were younger, it’s not too late to catch up. To see our vaccine chart, which shows the vaccines needed at each age, visit our website at  

Coming soon: flu shots 

Seasonal flu — the flu that comes year after year — begins in September and lasts into May. Caused by the influenza virus, the flu is a sickness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. Getting a flu shot each fall is the best way to prevent it. Flu shots are even more important as COVID-19 continues to spread among those who aren’t vaccinated. Flu shots will start being available next month. 

More helpful resources 

CDC: Vaccines at 13 to 18 years 

CDC: Vaccine for meningococcal disease 

CDC: Vaccine for tetanus 

CDC: Vaccine for diphtheria 

CDC: Vaccine for whooping cough (pertussis) 

CDC: Vaccines for COVID-19 

CDC: Vaccine for flu 


Columbia Pacific CCO: The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective:  

Columbia Pacific CCO vaccine charts: