Sunday, July 6, 2008

Arizona Department of Health - new vaccine recommendations

I received an email the other day from the Arizona Immunization Program Office. I'll post it here verbatim because they do a better job at getting to the point than I would:

Dear Blogger,

The Arizona Department of Health Services would like your help to inform your readers about newly released meningitis and pertussis vaccine recommendations for adolescents. As a blogger, you can play an important role in spreading information about new requirements to Arizona parents. We ask that you help us by writing a blog post about adolescent vaccination recommendations. Below is some information about the new vaccine recommendations and requirements. This information can also be found at the websites for Arizona Department of Health Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thanks very much for your time and effort! We appreciate your help!

You can also spread the word by sending an e-card to other parents, to youth, or to Spanish-speaking parents.

Background Information

The Arizona Department of Health Services now requires children 11 years and older entering 6th grade to be vaccinated against meningitis and whooping cough if 5 years have passed since the last tetanus/diphtheria containing vaccine. The new requirement goes into effect September 1, 2008.

This requirement is a positive step toward protecting the health of pre-teens and teens, including your child. Meningococcal disease, or meningitis, is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to death or permanent disability within hours of first symptoms. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a bacterial disease characterized by prolonged cough that can be complicated with pneumonia, rib fractures and other serious complications. Both diseases are contagious and can be very serious in young people; fortunately, both may be prevented with safe, effective vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Your child can receive the vaccines during a routine doctor’s visit. Your child can also receive any recommended childhood boosters or other adolescent vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls.


Why should my child receive these vaccines?

Meningococcal disease (meningitis) can be very serious, even deadly. The disease can progress rapidly and result in death in 48 hours or less. Even with antibiotic treatment, adolescents die in about 10% of cases. About 20% of survivors will have long-term disability such as loss of a limb, deafness, nervous system problems, or brain damage. The meningococcal vaccine can protect your child against meningitis!

Pertussis, or whooping cough, causes coughing fits that can last for several weeks or even months. Pertussis can be so severe that adolescents can miss school or become unable to participate in sports or other social activities. Parents may also have to miss work in order to take care of a sick child. A coughing adolescent can easily spread whooping cough to an infant. Infants have the most severe and sometimes fatal cases of pertussis. The required Tdap vaccine protects your child against pertussis, and provides protection against tetanus and diphtheria.

Are the vaccines safe?

Vaccines are safe and effective. Before any vaccine is licensed and made available to the public, it must be extensively studied and the FDA must approve it as safe and effective. Side effects of the vaccines are usually mild, such as a sore arm.

How do I pay for the vaccines?

If you have health insurance, all or most of the cost is usually covered. Your child may be eligible to get the vaccines free through the Vaccines for Children program (VFC) if they are Medicaid eligible, uninsured, American Indian or Alaska Native. Contact your local health department for vaccine information.

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