Health Notes - Vaccines
by Ellen S. Mullen M.D.
Vaccinations have always been a controversial subject. In recent generations there has not been many pandemic outbreaks of diseases with severe consequence in the United States. Diseases like polio, tetanus, and hemophilus influenza, while still present and oftentimes deadly in third world countries, are more likely found in history books. However, lower vaccination rates can at times lead to outbreaks of serious illnesses that can be fatal in certain populations. For example, the recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough have been traced back to those who were not fully or not at all immunized. The fact that we have been “immune” to these serious illnesses for quite some time seems to have led to a laxity on the part of parents to adhere to vaccination recommendations.
The recommended vaccines for children from birth to fifteen months include: Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Diphtheria/Tetanus/Acellular Pertussis, Hemophilus influenza B, Pneumococcal, Polio, Influenza, Measles/Mumps/Rubella, Varicella and Hepatitis A. These are all injectable meds that oftentimes can be given in combination and some require a series to be given to achieve immunity.
Eleven year olds are recommended to be revaccinated for Tdap and meningococcal and begin a three injection series of HPV (human papillomavirus). Sixteen to eighteen year olds should receive a meningococcal booster. HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines are two of the vaccines that have been shown to prevent cervical and liver cancer respectively.
As adults it is recommended that every ten years a tetanus booster be given and one of these boosters should include pertussis, in an effort to reduce the outbreaks of whooping cough. With the recent outbreak of measles it is suggested that adults born prior to 1957 should be immune to measles, mumps and rubella but if born after 1957 adults should receive one or more doses of MMR. Other high-risk individuals, such as college students and those travelling internationally, should have documented two doses of MMR at least 28 days apart. Other adult vaccines are also recommended. Check with your doctor on which of these immunizations are most appropriate for you and your family members.