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For Release: July 20, 2010
Contact Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Health Department Recommends Three Vaccines to Help Protect Preteens and Teens

As children approach their teen years, and especially when they prepare to go to college, parents often worry about how to protect them from new risks and potential dangers. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) wants parents to know that one measure they can take to protect their children for years to come is to make sure they are vaccinated against serious, life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and cervical cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Service, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the OSDH recommend that pre-teens and teens get several vaccines at their 11- or 12-year-old check-up. If they miss these vaccines at 11 to 12 years of age, they should receive them at their next visit. The three preteen vaccines include:

•MCV4, which protects against meningitis and its complications
•Tdap, which is a booster against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or "whooping cough"
•HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of human papillomavirus that most commonly cause cervical cancer and genital warts

"Many parents do not realize that immunity from some childhood vaccines, such as those for tetanus and whooping cough, declines over time, so adolescents and teens need a booster to provide continued protection,” said Dr. Lynn Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Preparedness Services at the OSDH.

Research shows that preteens generally visit the doctor only when they are sick, however, depending on their health and medical history, some preteens may require additional vaccines.

"The preteen check-up is a great time to talk with your child′s healthcare provider about your child′s development, nutrition, safety, and vaccination status. It is also an important time to make sure children are caught up on childhood immunizations such as chickenpox, hepatitis B, and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR),” said OSDH Chief of Immunizations, Don Blose.

Some facts about the preventable diseases of pertussis, meningitis and HPV/cervical cancer include the following:

•Pertussis, or whooping cough, is one of the most common respiratory diseases in American teens. It causes a prolonged cough that can last weeks or months and can result in pneumonia or hospitalization.
•Reported pertussis cases in the United States are on the rise. There were more than 25,000 cases in 2005.
•Meningococcal infections can be very serious, and can lead to meningitis and even death. These infections are not very common – an estimated 1,400 to 2,800 cases occur in the U.S. annually. However, about 10 percent of teens who get meningitis die from it, and another 15 percent have long-term disability.
•Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., with about 20 million people currently infected. Women have an 80 percent chance of getting HPV by the time they are 50. Every year in the U.S., about 6.2 million people get a new HPV infection. HPV is most common in young people who are in their late teens and early twenties. In 2007, about 11,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 3,600 women will die from the disease.

For more information about preteen vaccines visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/preteen/. For information about vaccine availability near you, contact your healthcare provider or the county health department in your area.

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