Vaccine Update: Summer 2011

From kindergarteners to college freshman, parents are bringing their kids to our office for well child visits. Most are bringing forms for their doctor to sign, and many of those forms include confirming vaccination status. For those of us in Missouri or Kansas, the required vaccinations for school entry are not significantly different from the 2010 school year.

There have been some additional recommendations to the vaccination schedule for pre-teen and teens. In addition, there is a additional recommendation for children who are going to be traveling abroad.

Here are the highlights:

Meningococcal protection:

Many parents are aware that when their child turns 11 years old, they may receive the vaccine that prevents against meningococcal meningitis. This bacterial infection of the brain and bloodstream is most widely known for attacking high schools and college campuses.

It is now recommended that a booster dose of the vaccine be given at age 16-18 years.

Meningococcal protection is not required for school entry in Kansas or Missouri, however, it is required for college entry at most schools.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) protection for girls AND BOYS:

Cervical cancer protection caused by HPV has been offered to pre-teen girls for many years. It is now recommended that boys also get protected from HPV disease. Information regarding the benefits of protection are here and here.

Varicella (chickenpox) protection:

Requirements for school entry differ between KS and MO (see above charts.) It is to be noted, however, that 2 doses of the vaccine are generally recommended. If you think your child had actual chickenpox disease, a blood test can verify if your child has immunity.

In our area, most chickenpox outbreaks occur in middle and high school aged children who thought they were protected, but were not. Outbreaks of disease in older children often cause disease in infants too young to be vaccinated.

As a side note, I am happy to share a recent report that demonstrated the dramatic reduction in childhood death due to varicella because of the vaccine (Seattle Mama Doc explains.)

MMR for travelers:

As most of us in the Kansas City area are aware, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of measles in the US. This highly infectious disease is thought to be arriving in North America from European travelers. Due to the increased concern of contracting measles, an MMR vaccine to protect from this disease is recommended for all travelers aged 6 months or older, 2 doses if over the age of 1 year. Please talk about any family travel plans with your provider to see if this vaccine would be recommended.

Coming soon:

The annual influenza vaccine (injection or nasal spray) is recommended for all children 6 months and above. We anticipate receiving the influenza vaccine in our office in the next few weeks. Additional information will be posted once it is available.

Please discuss with your provider if your child needs any additional vaccines according to these recommendations.

Looking forward to a healthy and happy 2011 school year!