04-25-2011 (Dayton, OH) -
Each year, thousands of children become ill from diseases that could have been prevented by basic childhood immunizations. Countless more miss time from day care and school because they are under-immunized or inappropriately immunized.
During the week of April 23-30, 2011 Dayton Children’s will observe National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative designed to raise awareness about the importance of childhood immunizations. Each year during NIIW, the state’s childhood immunization coalition, the Maryland Childhood Immunization Partnership, leads child health programs across the state in hosting activities to promote vaccinations for children under the age of 2.
Sherman Alter, MD, director of infectious disease, notes there were several changes to the immunization schedule this year, three of particular interest to parents.
“Parents and families should talk to their child’s doctor about the flu vaccine, Tdap recommendations and the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine. These three are important,” he says.
Dr. Alter and Dayton Children’s suggest 8 recommendations to make note of:
- All persons aged 6 months and older should receive influenza vaccine annually.
- Children at 12-23 months should be vaccinated with hepatitis A virus vaccine.
- All infants should receive rotavirus vaccine to protect against diarrhea caused by this virus.
- Children must receive two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine (12-15 months and 4-6 years) with catch-up vaccination for others who have not been fully vaccinated.
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (meningitis vaccine) should be given routinely at age 11-12 years with a booster dose of the vaccine given at age 16 years. If given to unvaccinated adolescents aged 13-15 years, then a booster dose is given at age 16-18 years.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series (three immunizations) should be administered to girls 11-12 years of age for girls with catch-up vaccination of those aged 13-26 years who were not previously vaccinated. HPV vaccine may be given to males aged 9-26 years.
- Adolescents aged 11-18 years who have completed the childhood DTP or DTap (diphtheria toxoid , tetanus toxoid and pertussis) vaccine series and adults aged 19-64 years should receive a single dose of Tdap vaccine (Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis) Children aged 7-10 years not fully vaccinated with DTap at a younger age should receive a single dose of Tdap. Importantly, adults who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant aged less than 12 months (parents, grandparents) should receive a single dose of Tdap vaccine.
- Infants and young children receiving the pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7) should complete the vaccine series with the new vaccine (PCV13) that affords additional protection against serious infections caused by this germ. Infants starting the vaccine series should be vaccinated with PCV13.
Diseases that can be prevented by safe, appropriately administered vaccines include:
- Diphtheria: A very contagious bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection around the brain and spinal cord.
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib): This bacterium is very serious for children younger than age 5 and especially infants.
- Hepatitis A and B: Hepatitis A and B are infections in the liver caused by a virus. Hepatitis A can last several months and may require hospitalization. Hepatitis B causes a flu-like illness. The virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives and can result in severe liver disease, including fatal cancer.
- Influenza–the flu: Most often an illness that last from several days to weeks. Influenza can lead to hospitalization or even death among previously healthy children.
- Measles, mumps and rubella (German measles): Measles is highly contagious and can lead to high fevers and a rash, which can last for up to a week. Mumps is known for painful swelling of the salivary glands under the jaw. Severe complications are rare, but mumps can lead to meningitis, permanent hearing loss or swelling of the testes, which can lead to sterility in men. Rubella is particularly dangerous to pregnant women who may experience a miscarriage or delivering a baby with serious heart defects, mental retardation and loss of hearing and eye sight.
- Pertussis (whooping cough): Starting with symptoms like the common cold, pertussis can progress to an illness that causes spells of violent coughing and choking. The majority (almost two thirds) of children younger than age 1 with pertussis are hospitalized.
- Pneumococcal disease: This bacterium can invade the lungs and cause the most common type of bacterial pneumonia. It some cases, it can invade the bloodstream and the brain, which may result in hospitalization and even death.
- Polio: This virus causes sudden fever, sore throat, headache, muscle weakness and pain. In rare cases, polio can cause paralysis which affects breathing.
- Rotavirus: The most common cause of severe diarrhea among children. Approximately 55,000 children are hospitalized each year in the United States from severe diarrhea and vomiting caused by rotavirus.
- Tetanus (lockjaw): Tetanus is a bacterium found in the soil and may enter the body through a wound. An infection can cause serious painful spasms and stiffness of all the muscles in the body.
- Varicella (chickenpox): Chickenpox is very contagious and spreads very easily. It is usually mild, but it can lead to severe skin infections, pneumonia and encephalitis.
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