Like most parents, you probably thought you were done with vaccines once your child entered kindergarten. However, doctors are saying that immunity can wane, and your adolescent may be at risk for serious diseases that can be easily spread, such as whooping cough and chickenpox.

“It’s important that 11- and 12-year-olds see the doctor and get immunized,” said Dr. Elliot Schulman, a Santa Barbara County health officer. “Immunity received from childhood vaccines can wane overtime, exposing a child to serious diseases that could easily spread, leading to missed weeks of school or worse.”

To highlight the importance of adolescent immunizations, the state of California has designated Jan. 18-24 as Preteen Vaccine Week. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department joins the state of California and other agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in promoting immunization updates in the preteen age group.

Parents of preteens are urged to schedule a checkup with their child’s doctor to make sure their immunizations are up to date. The doctor will recommend several vaccines, including the meningococcal vaccine, a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough) booster, a second chickenpox shot (if they have never had chickenpox disease) and the HPV vaccine series for girls to help prevent cervical cancer. The doctor also may recommend a flu vaccine.

“Protecting the health of California’s youth is one of our most urgent priorities,” Schulman said. “Preteen Vaccine Week is part of our commitment to ensuring our kids receive all the benefits immunizations can provide.”

For more information, talk to your child’s doctor, click here or call the health department’s Immunization Program at 805.346.8420.