Tulsa Shock guard Andrea Riley and Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier teamed up with NBA Cares and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) today to bring Vaccines for Teens to the Tulsa community. Vaccines for Teens is a national awareness campaign designed to educate teens and their parents about the importance of vaccination against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
To tip off the campaign locally, Lanier and Riley appeared at Madison Middle School to urge parents of preteens and teens to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family physicians.
Teens are at risk for serious infections such as influenza, meningococcal disease (meningitis) and pertussis (whooping cough). The basketball superstars and local community leaders agree that it is now more important than ever to help protect preteens and teens in the Tulsa area from potentially life-threatening complications of these diseases. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination for preteens and teens against influenza, meningococcal disease and pertussis.
"Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and should be encouraged for the students at Madison Middle School and for teens throughout the Tulsa area," said Riley. "In basketball, the best offense is a good defense, and the same holds true for protecting teen health."
Adolescent Immunization is More Important than Ever in Tulsa
Although the CDC and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination against influenza, meningococcal disease and pertussis, immunization rates for prevention of all three diseases among preteens and teens remain unacceptably low in Oklahoma, where less than half of teens between 13 and 17 years of age have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and pertussis.
Adolescent immunization in Tulsa is a very important community health issue. In fact, the Oklahoma State Department of Health recently updated the state immunization requirements. Beginning this fall, students entering seventh grade will be required to receive a booster shot of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccine to help protect against whooping cough.
Since January 1, 2010, 15 cases of meningococcal invasive disease were reported in Oklahoma, reinforcing that it is a crucial time for Tulsa parents to have their children vaccinated against these potentially deadly diseases. With summer just around the corner, parents also need to know meningococcal disease can spread from person to person through common summer activities, such as sharing water bottles or eating utensils and living in close quarters at camp.
In addition, since September 1, 2010, nearly 1,000 cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported in Oklahoma and forty-eight percent of hospitalizations have occurred among children 18 years of age or younger. Between 19,481 and 77,925 Tulsa area residents suffer from influenza annually, yet immunization rates fall short each year.
"With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student," said Philip J. Rettig, MD of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center. "Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help teens stay protected, yet immunization rates remain low in this population."
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine