VEC and AMA release updated information guide, 'Vaccines and Teens'

This week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (VEC) and the American Medical Association released an updated information guide called Vaccines and Teens [] for parents and physicians, detailing the most current recommendations and information about critical immunizations for older children.

While vaccination rates are improving among children ages 11-19, many adolescents and teens are still not protected from diseases such as pertussis, meningococcal meningitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"This age group is particularly susceptible to certain infections for a variety of reasons," explained Dr. Offit. "Immunity provided by some of those early childhood vaccinations is fading, and older children become susceptible again to diptheria, tetanus and pertussis. Additionally, teens and adolescents are developing new social patterns. Sleepaway camps, dorm rooms, dating and night clubs are all exciting parts of growing up, but are also situations that increase the risk of potentially life-threatening infections like meningococcus and HPV."

Results from a CDC national survey of 13-17-year-olds released in August 2011 show that approximately 30 to 50 percent of adolescents are still missing at least one of the recommended critical vaccines for ages 11-12, which include the meningococcal vaccine (MCV4); tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine; and the three-dose human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is recommended for all girls, but available to both boys and girls. The influenza vaccine is also recommended annually for all children and adults older than six months.

"There's good news and not so good news to report. Immunization rates against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis [Tdap] were up 13 percent from the previous year, and up nine percent for the meningococcal vaccine. That means about two-thirds of kids are getting those recommended vaccines," said Paul Offit, M.D., director of the Vaccine Education Center and chief of Infectious Diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "However, the news for the HPV vaccine was discouraging. Immunization rates for HPV increased only 4% from the previous year, meaning only about one-third of girls for whom this vaccine is recommended are getting it, placing them at unnecessary risk for cervical cancer, which accounts for 10,000 cases and 4,000 deaths every year."

One reason for lower vaccination rates among adolescents (60% of adolescents vs. 90% of younger children) is that many of recommendations are only a few years old. Additionally, teens and preteens see their doctors less often than any other age group, so physicians have fewer opportunities to counsel parents on the recommended immunizations for older children.

"The AMA is committed to improving adolescent immunization rates in the United States, and we are delighted to be able to collaborate with the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on this informative booklet," said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. "The AMA encourages physicians to use this booklet as a resource to help inform adolescents, teens and their parents about the importance of vaccines and their value in preventing disease."


Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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