County Urging Parents to Vaccinate Adolescent Children

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection that can lead to certain types of cancer later in life, yet about 50% of adolescents in the nation don’t have the vaccine that can prevent it.

This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that girls and boys get the HPV vaccine when they turn 11 or 12 to prevent six types of cancer later in life.

The HPV vaccine is one of several vaccinations recommended for adolescents that the County Health and Human Services Agency is raising awareness about as part of Preteen Vaccine Week from March 1-7.

“Vaccines are safe and effective and are the best protection we have to prevent disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Parents should speak with their medical provider to make sure their adolescent boys and girls have gotten the recommended vaccines.”

There are about 300,000 preteens and adolescents in San Diego County, and many of them have not had all the recommended vaccines. Making sure students have all the required vaccines is part of the countywide Live Well San Diego vision, an effort to improve the health and well-being of residents in the region.

The CDC recommends adolescent children get immunized against the following diseases:

  1. HPV
    Boys and girls need all shots in the series for full protection. HPV vaccine for girls and young women prevents cervical cancer. The vaccine is also recommended for boys to prevent anal cancer and genital warts.
  2. Meningococcal disease
    Meningococcal bacteria are known to cause serious illnesses in children and adolescents. The bacteria can infect the blood and cause inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord. Ten percent of teens who become ill die, and another 15 percent suffer long-term disability such as loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems or brain damage.
  3. Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (grouped in one vaccine called Tdap)
    All students entering 7thgrade need proof of a Tdap booster in order to attend school.
  4. Influenza
    The flu vaccine is recommended every year for everyone 6 months and older. Like most of the nation, San Diego County is currently going through a severe influenza season.
  5. Chickenpox
    Chickenpox, or varicella, is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. While chickenpox is a mild disease for most people, it can be life-threatening for some. Two doses are recommended.

The above 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 locations; call 2-1-1 for a location nearest you.

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