World Immunization Week 2018
World Immunization Week is organized by the World Health Organization and observes the importance of achieving global vaccination coverage, and how immunizations play a crucial role in preventing disease. The WHO also highlights the need for everyone, including healthcare professionals and the general public, to go further in their efforts to increase vaccination coverage for the greater good. It is estimated that there are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, so this week focuses on highlighting the gaps in coverage and increasing vaccine coverage on a global scale.
In our own part of the world, adolescent and teen vaccination coverage in Nevada varies depending on what vaccine. Looking at national survey data, Nevada’s HPV coverage in the 13-17 year old age group ranks higher than most states. In fact, nearly 65% of Nevada’s teens received their first dose of HPV vaccine in 2016, which is above the national average (Teen Vax View, CDC). However, Nevada is behind in Meningococcal conjugate coverage compared to the national average, with only 78.7% of this age group up to date on these vaccines. Nevada has room to improve on vaccine coverage in the 13-17 year old age group, but getting there can be a challenge. Increasing overall immunization rates is not up to one person — it is up to parents, healthcare workers, and young adults themselves to get them and their loved ones vaccinated.
Vaccines are just as important for teens and young adults as they are for populations with weaker immune systems, such as children and seniors. In order to be fully protected against vaccine-preventable illnesses, it is important to make sure you are up to date on all your childhood vaccines and any other vaccines you may need to get depending on your age. Here is a list of the vaccines you need as an adolescent.
The Tdap vaccine protects against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). You should have received the Dtap vaccine as an infant, which is a variation of Tdap. A dose of Tdap from 11-12 years of age is recommended to boost immunity, and as an adult this vaccine is recommended every 10 years.
The HPV vaccine protects against human papillomavirus, which can cause genital warts or cervical, penile, anal, and oral cancers. This vaccine is recommended between ages 11-12, with two doses. If you are a young adult and have not received any doses of the HPV vaccine, women and men can receive this vaccine up to the age of 26.
There are two types of meningococcal vaccines for preteens and teens: quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines and Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines. These vaccines protect against meningococcal disease, which is any type of illness caused by the meningococcus bacteria. All 11-12 year olds should receive the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, with a booster dose given at 16 years of age. Youth 16-18 years of age can be vaccinated with the Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness, caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can range from mild to severe, and in some cases even lead to death. The vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza should be given to you every year, preferably in the fall, before the flu season really starts affecting your community.
What Other Vaccines Do I Need?
As an infant, you probably received many other vaccines, so take a look through your immunization records to make sure you are caught up on all your required vaccines. If not, there is still time to catch up on some of them. These include Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella, and inactivated poliovirus.
Did You Know?
The World Health Organization (WHO) is now recommending the introduction of typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) for infants and children over 6 months of age in countries where typhoid is endemic. Areas with poor water and sewage sanitation see a higher prevalence of typhoid fever, such as Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Typhoid is responsible for nearly 12 million infections annually and up to 161,000 deaths a year.
As World Immunization Week comes to an end, think about what you can do in your own community to advocate for vaccines and raise awareness on why they are so important in preventing disease. Increasing vaccine coverage on a global scale is a huge task, so starting out in your own part of the world is a great start.
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This post was written for Healthy Young NV by Rachel, the Volunteer Coordinator at Immunize Nevada.