Health Department

Adolescent Check Up

Adolescent Check Up

August 29, 2011

It's that time of year again. The nation's children have headed back to school. And there's no better time to make sure they get a healthy start!

As you prepare for the school year, consider scheduling your adolescent's annual physical check up, which will not only ready them for athletic activities, but will help screen for any conditions that may have emerged in the prior year. Check to see whether immunizations (also known as vaccines) are up-to-date and ensure your teen is on track for a healthy school year and beyond.

An Apple a Day plus an Annual Visit

According to guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents should have an annual checkup beginning at age 11. This visit should cover several preventive services, including a physical exam, immunizations, and discussion of health-related behaviors. Also, because symptoms of mental health disorders sometimes emerge during adolescence, the annual checkup should include screening for mental health disorders and emotional and behavioral problems.

The annual checkup is a good time for adolescents to receive recommended vaccinations. All adolescents should receive four important vaccines.

· Tdap vaccine: a booster to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also called "whooping cough");

· Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): an immunization to protect against meningococcal disease;

· Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Cervarix or Gardasil): an immunization to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancer and genital warts. Both boys and girls can receive the HPV vaccine (Gardasil);

· Influenza (flu) vaccine: an immunization to protect against different strains of seasonal influenza.

Additionally, adolescents may need to catch-up on vaccines missed when they were younger (such as Hepatitis B or the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccination series), or receive boosters of a vaccine that requires more than one dose (visit for a full adolescent and teen vaccination schedule).

Remember, annual exams are not just for athletes, all adolescents need them. Protect your children’s health as well as their safety.