150K San Diego Adolescents Lack Recommended Vaccines

There are about 300,000 adolescents in San Diego County and half of them lack some or all the recommended vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adolescents get five vaccines: meningococcal disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), whooping cough, chickenpox and influenza.

February 7-13 is Preteen Vaccine Week and the County Health and Human Services Agency is encouraging parents to get their adolescent children vaccinated.

“A large number of unvaccinated students increases the risk of contracting a dangerous disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Parents should make sure their children are up-to-date with immunizations to protect them from getting sick.”

Meningococcal disease is known to cause serious illness in children and adolescents, and can infect the blood and cause inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord.

The meningococcal disease vaccine is recommended for teens and adolescents and also people at increased risk, including college students living in dorms, military recruits, and individuals traveling to parts of the world where meningococcal disease is common.

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls and young women to prevent cervical cancer. The vaccine is also recommended for boys to prevent anal cancer and genital warts.

Also, the region is coming out of a whooping cough epidemic, which resulted in thousands of cases.

The CDC recommends these vaccines and doses at the ages below:




Flu (annually) 6 months and older 1-2 (depends on prior vaccination history)
HPV (human papillomavirus) 11 – 12 years 3-dose series
Pertussis (whooping cough) Tdap booster 11 – 12 years and older 1
Meningococcal disease 11 – 18 years 2
Chickenpox 11 – 12 years 2

Everyone 6 months and older should receive an annual flu shot. Two doses of flu vaccine are recommended for children 8 years and younger who are receiving it for the first time.

Two doses of chickenpox vaccine are recommended for unvaccinated adolescents who have not had the disease.

Parents should also be aware that all seventh graders need to show proof they received the pertussis booster shot (Tdap) before starting school.

The vaccines are available at physician offices, community clinics, and many retail pharmacies. People without medical insurance can get vaccinated at one of the seven County Public Health Centers.

For more information on vaccines, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact