According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual National Teen Immunization Survey, there was a small increase in teen vaccination rates across the country in 2012-13. However, the findings related to use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine were a cause for concern. The data suggested that:
Experts at the CDC estimate that if 13-year-old girls would have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine at the same time they received other recommended vaccines, about 9 of every 10 would have started the HPV vaccine series.
Because more than half of sexually active people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives — and with more than half of new infections being in teens and young adults 15 to 24 years of age — these data are concerning.
The HPV vaccine protects against a virus that most of us will be exposed to at some point and prevents a long-term infection that results in cancer for some people. Further, the vaccine will only work when received before exposure to the virus, so every day that adolescents and teens remain unimmunized is another day that more will be infected — effectively sealing the fate of a few of them decades from now. If you are the parent of an adolescent or teen, find the information that you and your teen need to make an informed decision before deciding against this vaccine.
Additional resources for information related to HPV and the vaccine:
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently expressed a preference for using the nasal spray version of the influenza vaccine — over the shot — in healthy children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old. Because the nasal spray influenza vaccine contains live, weakened viruses that are able to reproduce modestly in the lining of the nose, but not in the lungs, recipients typically benefit from a better immune response than those who got the influenza shot, which contains dead viruses. However if the nasal spray version is not immediately available, the shot version should be given so that children have the best chance of being protected when influenza enters their school or community.
The more than 500 confirmed cases of measles in the United States in the first half of 2014 has eclipsed the total cases reported for any year going back to 1997. In fact there haven’t been this many cases of measles in the U.S. by this time of year since 1994. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can live in the air hours after an infected person has left. In fact, if one infected person comes in contact with 10 susceptible people, all 10 are likely to become infected.
The VEC offers resources for learning more about measles and the MMR vaccine:
Children in the United States whose families cannot afford vaccines are entitled to receive them for free through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The program is estimated to have saved 732,000 lives since its creation in 1993.
Once a trip is booked, many people don’t think about getting ready until the week before departure. However, some planning may need to be done sooner:
Prior to departure, it’s important to make sure all recommended vaccines are up to date. You should also consult a travel medicine specialist to identify additional vaccine needs.
If you take prescription medicines on a regular basis, it’s important to make sure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. These medications should be packed in carry-on luggage to prevent them from being lost. Travelers who have severe allergies are also recommended to pack their epinephrine auto-injector in case of emergency. If any of the medications are injectable or considered to be controlled substances, travelers should consider having their doctor write a letter identifying their need to use these medicines.
We all know it’s important to pack the right clothes for your travel destination, both according to the weather and any special activities you might be doing while there, such as hiking or swimming. But travelers should also pack a travel health kit that includes basic first-aid supplies, insect repellant and sunscreen. It is also a good idea to carry your health insurance card as well as the names and phone numbers for your family members’ healthcare providers.
Some people wonder why most vaccines require multiple doses. The reasons vary depending on the vaccine. Review the table below to learn more.
|Reason for multiple doses||Vaccine example|
|To protect those who didn’t respond to the first dose||Chickenpox vaccine|
|Additional doses provide a greater immune response than that generated after the first dose||Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine|
|The immune response lasts longer after more than one dose is received||Pertussis vaccine|
|The vaccine protects against a virus that changes enough so that immunity to older versions wouldn’t be protective||Influenza vaccine|
What does the population of Arizona, the number of passengers on more than one thousand cruise ships and the number of fans in a full NFL stadium have in common? The number of people making up each situation is comparable to recent data from the CDC regarding the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine during the 2012-2013 influenza season:
Less than half of all people older than 6 years of age received the influenza vaccine during the 2012-2013 influenza season. If more people were vaccinated, the numbers of influenza-related illnesses and hospitalizations averted through vaccination would have been substantially higher.
Every day we hear about the power of vaccines and their tremendous impact on public health. But have you ever wondered what this effect would be if it was put into numbers? Well, wonder no more!
In November 2013, Donald Burke and co-workers published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that estimated the number of cases of diseases prevented by vaccines. Here are some highlights from their findings:
January is “Cervical Cancer Awareness” month. Cervical cancer is one of several types of cancer caused by HPV infection and is one of the most common cancers affecting women. Each year, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,200 die from the disease. Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by long-lasting infection with HPV types 16 or 18. Because the HPV vaccine protects against these two types of HPV, girls and young women age 9 through 26 years are recommended to get the HPV vaccine.
During January, check with the young women in your life to be sure they are aware of the HPV vaccine as a way to prevent cervical cancer.
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