By Jamie Shuster
The CDC just released the results of their National Immunization Survey-Teen and there is good news for South Carolina students. The percentage of young people ages 13-17 who received a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine rose from 64.9% to 71.9% between 2012 and 2013. During this same time period, meningococcal coverage also rose from 58.5% to 68.7%.
But the biggest gain came in HPV coverage. South Carolina saw an 18.5% increase in females who received one or more doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine between 2012 and 2013, jumping from 41.9% to 60.4% and prompting national recognition from the CDC for our impressive increase in coverage rates.
So how did we achieve this success?
In August 2013, the Tdap vaccination became a school entry requirement for all South Carolina 7th graders. To help prepare parents and schools for this change, DHEC Public Health created and distributed more than 128,000 educational materials that were sent home to parents by schools across the state over the course of a year.
Our messaging communicated not only the new Tdap requirement, but also provided a “Teen and Preteen Vaccine Checklist,” educating parents on the three other vaccines that the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend for adolescents: meningitis, HPV, and flu.
The result was a heightened awareness by parents and educators of the need to vaccinate older children for all of these preventable diseases that we believe led to the successful uptick in coverage for this age group.
While we are making great strides in increasing immunization coverage rates for young people, there’s still work to be done to ensure all South Carolina adolescents are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Remember, vaccinating your preteen or teenager is as easy as 1-2-3:
- 1 dose of Tdap vaccine
- 2 doses of meningococcal vaccine
- 3 doses of HPV vaccine
Thank you to all of Central Office and Regional Public Health staff who have worked so hard to make these big gains in vaccination coverage possible. For more information about recommended vaccinations for children ages 7-18, check out the CDC’s Immunization Schedule for Preteens and Teens