A recent Harris Interactive poll shows that four out of five moms know their school-age kids still need certain immunizations and that vaccines aren't just for babies. But according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most preteens and teens actually aren't up-to-date on their vaccines. Why not? "It's been well documented that as kids get older, doctor visits drop off - meaning that as long as they're healthy, children may go long periods of time without seeing their pediatrician. Many school districts don't require annual physicals or updated immunization records. And if a child isn't seeing her doctor, she's clearly not getting vaccinated," says Robert Frenck, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases.
The other issue Dr. Frenck sees frequently: kids getting one shot in a series they need (such as HPV, which is given in three staggered doses) but not coming back for the follow-up shots. So really, they're not protected. "It's easy for it to fall off their parents' radar. Things get busy and they just forget," notes Dr. Frenck. But making sure your child has had all her immunizations - and catching her up if she hasn't - is crucial. "Vaccines have been so good and successful that there's a real perception now that the diseases they prevent are gone. Not true! With the exception of smallpox, they're all out there and can rage back at any time if we don't keep immunizing," Dr. Frenck explains. For details on which shots your child should be getting - and at what age - check out the latest recommendations at the AAP site Cispimmunize.org.