Credit: ISTOCK

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(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — Preventing diseases that can spread in our communities is the foundation of public health. Next week, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is joining with the California Department of Public Health in recognizing February 27- March 5 as “Preteen Vaccine Week,” focusing on protecting adolescents against dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Vaccines are our best bet when it comes to giving our children safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By ensuring our kids stay up to date on recommended vaccinations, we are helping protect our children, families, and community from serious, life-threatening illnesses. 

Preteens need vaccines against whooping cough (Tdap), HPV, and meningitis (MenACWY), when they are 11-12 years old. The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for those 5 and older to protect themselves against COVID-19. Incoming 7th graders must also provide proof of having received the whooping cough shot and two doses of chickenpox vaccine before starting school. Additional meningitis vaccines are recommended when teens are 16 years old. Flu vaccine is also recommended for everyone 6 months or older, not just preteens and teens. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to cover CDC-recommended vaccines at all ages without charging a deductible or copayment. Any child without coverage should be able to get vaccinations without a financial burden. Parents can contact their health care provider or local public health department for information about the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), which provides free vaccines to eligible kids. 

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