Little Known Vaccination Info

Most of us depend on our pediatricians to tell us when it's time to vaccinate our children. But as parents, the responsibility rests on us to keep current with the latest information on vaccinations and disease so we can make informed decisions relating to the care and protection of our children. The following items about infectious disease and vaccines may be news to you:

Wearing Off

*Pertussis (whooping cough)—This disease was thought to have been all but eliminated in America, but of late, there have been many reported cases. Doctors theorize that early childhood vaccines are wearing off some time in early adulthood. The populations in college campuses and senior citizen residences have been seen to be vulnerable to these outbreaks. Disease then spreads to infants who have not completed the process of immunization. For this reason, the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practice (ACIP) now recommends that those over the age of 11 receive booster shots for pertussis.

*Diphtheria, tetanus—In order to maintain lifelong immunity from these diseases, it is necessary to have a booster shot every 10 years.

*Pneumococcus—Those over 65 or with chronic health issues, such as those which compromise the immune system, should have the pneumococcus vaccine. The CDC has stated that among those diseases which are preventable through the use of vaccines, pneumococcus is one of the more common causes of death in the United States. Complications for this disease tend to be more prevalent among senior citizens.

Serious Diseases

*Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)—These three are serious diseases in both children and adults. It is recommended by the CDC that those people born after 1957 should be vaccinated if they have not already received the vaccine. Prior to 1957, these diseases were seen more often and a large number of Americans had achieved natural immunity. Since rubella can cause birth defects and miscarriage, it's even more important for women in their fertile years to have the vaccine.

*Chickenpox (Varicella)—This disease tends to affect youngsters, but adults can get it too, and when they do, the disease takes a more serious turn. Those adults who get chickenpox may end up contracting shingles. Shingles has the potential to damage major organs or a person's eyes. Also, adults who get chickenpox often come down with pneumonia. Prior to the vaccine's dissemination in 1995, some 50 adults died of the childhood disease every year. Those adults, who believe they haven't been vaccinated for chickenpox or haven't had the disease, should check with their doctor about receiving the vaccine.

*Meningococcal Vaccine—College campuses and schools have seen recent outbreaks of meningitis. Doctors believe this is due to dormitory living at a time when vaccinations may have worn off. The American College Health Association has issued a recommendation that teens be vaccinated for meningitis before starting college. 

Cervical Cancer

*Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HPV vaccine in 2006, which affords protection against many strains of the virus. HPV is a common infection transmitted through sexual activity (STD). The virus leads to genital warts in both sexes and can lead to cervical cancer in women. 

Because the vaccine works best when given before a person becomes sexually active or before exposure to the virus can occur, the ACIP has recommended that girls receive the vaccine at the age of 11 or 12, but it can be given as young as 9 or as late as 26. The vaccine is only approved for women and consists of three injections administered over a 6 month period of time.


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