Vaccination is the cornerstone of pediatric medicine. Every year, changes are made to the vaccination schedule by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to reflect new recommendations. Following is a summary of new vaccines and recommendations:
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children in the world. By age 5, 1 in 14 children will be hospitalized or visit an ER due to rotavirus illness. The goal of immunization with this live oral vaccine is to duplicate the protection provided by natural infection. The vaccine, Rotateq, was licensed in 2006 and is recommended to give at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Side effects of the vaccine may include fever, irritability and decreased activity. Rotateq is 78% effective at preventing all cases of rotavirus gastroenteritis and 98% effective at preventing severe rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine:
Varicella vaccine was licensed in 1995 and recommended as a single dose for children 12 months through 12 years and 2 doses for children older than age 13. However, approximately 20% of vaccine recipients are not fully immune and may develop mild varicella. Due to the persistence of varicella outbreaks, the ACIP recommended as of June 2006 that all children should receive 2 doses of varicella vaccine, the first at 12 months and the second at school entry. All other children should be “caught up” and receive their second immunization at their well child visit.
Meningococcal Vaccine (Menactra):
is the leading cause of meningitis in children and adults in the United States. 62% of all cases occur in those over age 11 and nearly all outbreaks occur in college and school settings. In 2000, the ACIP formally recommended that college freshman receive a meningococcal vaccine (Menomune) due to an increased risk from living in dormitories. In 2005, the ACIP expanded its recommendations to immunization of those age 11-12, those entering high school (approximately age 15) and college freshmen. The currently recommended vaccine is Menactra which provides longer lasting immunity than Menomune. Only one dose is necessary.
Human Papillomavirus Vaccination (Gardasil):
The newest vaccine for adolescent females is the HPV vaccine. HPV is a common virus affecting approximately 20 million people in the US. There are over 100 known serotypes of HPV and approximately 40 are known to infect the genital tract and can cause abnormal Pap smears, genital lesions and genital warts. Persistent infection with a high-risk HPV serotype causes cervical cancer. Gardasil contains 4 serotypes of HPV accounting for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. Gardasil is recommended for ages 9-26 years of age and is administered in 3 doses over a 6 month time period. It is most effective if given before any exposure to the virus.
Prior to routine pertussis ( whooping cough) vaccination, the majority of cases occurred in children younger than age 10. Recently, however, the majority of the 30,000 cases of pertussis reported each year are in children older than age 10 and adults due to waning immunity from their earlier vaccine. Pertussis is the only vaccine preventable disease that is increasing in incidence. Introduction of pertussis vaccination to adolescents and adults is expected to reduce disease rates as well as offer protection to unvaccinated infants. Approximately 70% of infections in infants can be traced to a parent or sibling. This vaccine replaces the older tetanus shot (Td) normally given at age 11-12.
Since licensure in 1995 of a hepatitis A vaccine, the CDC has been implementing an incremental immunization strategy for children. The first states to give hepatitis A were those with high disease rates, mostly in the western part of the country. The final step in implementation is universal vaccination of all infants age 12 months and older as well as catching up other children at their well visits. Hepatitis A is virus spread through food and water contamination. It causes jaundice, severe stomach pains and diarrhea. People with hepatitis A often have to be hospitalized and they can easily pass the disease to others in the household.
Please contact one of our nurses or physicians with any questions about the recommended vaccines.