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Lucy Hale: 'Vaccines Can Save Lives Against Scary Diseases'

Photograph by AP Images for Voices of Meningit

You—or your kids—might know Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery on "Pretty Little Liars," the hit teen mystery series on ABC Family. The 25-year-old star has also joined the Voices of Meningitis campaign Boost the Volume as an ambassador to talk about the importance of vaccines.

We caught up with her, alongside registered nurse Sally Schlosser, to talk teen health, what she'll miss most after "Pretty Little Liars," and the best advice she's gotten from her mom — who's a nurse!

"Teens are at increased risk at that time because of their everyday behaviors," Schlosser said. "This is spread by respiratory droplets, and teens are sharing utensils, they're sharing water bottles, they're kissing, they're living in dormatories."

So what can parents do?

Get your kids vaccinated, Schlosser says. "The CDC is the gold standard for evidenced-based practice, and they recommend a [meningococcal meningitis] vaccine at age 11 and 12 and then the booster at age 16 to 18."

Here's what Hale had to say:

How did you get involved with Voices of Meningitis?

As a teen, and even recently, I was aware of what meningitis was, but there was a lack of awareness even for me. I didn't realize how scary and potentially fatal this disease could be. This is something that you shouldn't have to worry about. Parents shouldn't have to worry about it.

What would you like teens to know about being positive about their body image?

I feel really lucky. My mom was a nurse, so I grew up in a household where she stressed the importance of putting your health first, of taking care of yourself, of going to the doctor, asking questions with the doctor, and she really instilled that in me—the importance of shots and vaccinations.

I think in this situation, my advice to teens, and especially parents, is reach out and ask your health care provider about what this is, what you can do to help your teen out, to help yourself out. Ask your school nurses. That's what they're there for. It's OK to reach out for help.

Some parents have opted out of vaccinating their kids. What are your thoughts on that?

For me, I obviously am well aware that some people feel that way. And obviously you're entitled to do and believe and think whatever you want. Just tying my mom back into this, I really don't know anything different. I just know that vaccines can save lives against scary diseases.

What's the best advice you've gotten from your mom?

My mom's full of advice all the time, and comments, but to tie it into what we're talking about today, my mom is an amazing woman. I feel blessed every day to have her, to call her mine, but whether it is listening to your body or listening to your heart and your head, we're all given intuition and a gut feeling. We're smarter than we give ourselves credit for all the time. I think my mom's instilled "just listen to that intuitive part of you" in me. We're all very smart people. Just listen to whatever it is that your heart's telling you.

What do you think you'll miss most about "Pretty Little Liars"?

We still have a season and a half to go, but I've just fallen in love with my character, and I've fallen in love with the people that I work with. It's a dream job, and getting to live out this crazy life through another character is the thrill of a lifetime. We've created an amazing family over there.

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