More U.S. Teens Getting Recommended Vaccines, Report Finds
Just because your teens aren't little anymore doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to a host of fully-preventable diseases.
And, as August is National Immunization Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to make sure your teens' vaccinations are current.
The good news is that more American teenagers are getting their recommended vaccinations, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Compared with last year, the report found a substantial increase in the number of teens getting vaccinated -- in some cases by as much as 15 percent.
"This is the nation's report card on how the nation is doing in protecting adolescents and teenagers from vaccine-preventable diseases," Dr. Lance Rodewald, director of the Immunization Services Division of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, tells BusinessWeek. "It is very important to vaccinate and protect adolescents from vaccine-preventable diseases."
Each year, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) publishes a recommended immunization schedule for children from birth through age 18.
For 13- to 18-year-olds, recommended vaccines include:
- MC4: meningococcal conjugate (meningitis)
- Tdap: tetanus, diphtheria and acelluar pertussis (whooping cough)
- HPV: human papillomavirus (cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in females and genital warts in males and females)
However, this schedule serves only as a recommendation -- not regulation -- for parents, practitioners and state and local health authorities.
Adolescent vaccination coverage varies widely among states and local areas; only Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island reported more than 60 percent coverage for all three recommended vaccines, according to the report.
This may be explained, in part, by the types of initiatives used to promote vaccines in different areas. CDC evaluation of these initiatives is ongoing, in an effort to better understand the impact they have on adolescent vaccination, and to aid in the development of more effective state-based practices, according to the report.
One way states promote the use of vaccines is by establishing vaccination requirements for school entry. These requirements vary from state to state. For the 2009-2010 school year, for middle school entry, only 27 states required the Tdap vaccination, seven required meningitis and two required HPV -- but had opt-out provisions, the CDC reports.
Another key factor that may be affecting teen vaccination rates is that many teens don't see their doctors as often as younger children do, Rodewald tells BusinessWeek.
"Infants have an advantage in that they have these well-defined child-care visits that gives a natural platform for vaccination, and adolescents don't make quite as many visits to the doctor," he says.
With the recent surge in reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough, finding better ways to ensure compliance with recommended vaccination schedules can be a crucial step in preventing further outbreaks, unnecessary illnesses and deaths, according to the CDC.
Related: California Faces Worst Whooping Cough Epidemic in 50 Years
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.