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RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — Vaccines aren’t just for infants; adolescents and adults need to be protected against disease as well. April is Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month in North Carolina, and the NC Division of Public Health is reminding parents to protect their teens and pre-teens by bringing them up to date on required and recommended vaccinations.

“Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,” State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel said. “Parents should start thinking about immunizations now, so young people will be protected when they start the new school year.”

Most vaccines are required when a child enters school for the first time in kindergarten. State law also requires a dose of Tdap vaccine for all rising 6th graders or those who will reach 12 years of age on or after August 1. Children who have had a tetanus shot within the past five years may be exempt from the requirement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that older children receive a booster shot of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, as well as vaccinations against meningitis, HPV, hepatitis A and influenza.

During the 2010-2011 flu season, the state has recorded eight deaths from flu among school-aged children.

“Vaccines not only help protect those who receive them, but they also protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases,” Engel said.

Information about required vaccines for children and adults can be found at www.immunizenc.org

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Local Health Departments across the state will mark Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month with special activities. Here are some of the planned events:

COLUMBUS COUNTY
Event: Educational TV Show Featuring Adolescent Immunizations
Location: Local Community College
Date: TBD
Contact: Mitzi Ward at 910-640-6615 ext. 384

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