By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
BCHD recommends vaccines for teens
new vlc immunization story pic
Melissa Hagerman, RN, with the Barton County Health Department recommends parents consider having their young teens immunized for both Meningococcal disease and HPV. Neither is required to attend school in Kansas, but can help protect young people from two deadly diseases. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

Vaccine & schedule

• Hepatitis B — Birth, 1-2, 4 and 6-18 months

• Rotavirus — 2, 4 and 6 months

• DTap (tetanus, 2, 4, 6 and diphtheria and pertussis) — 12-18 months

• Hib (haemophilus 2, 4, 6 and influenza Type B) — 12-15 months

• Polio — 2, 4, 6 months and 4-6 years

• Influenza — 6 to 59 months (annually)

• MMRV  — measles, 12-15 months and mumps, rubella, varicella 4-6 years

• PCV — 12-15 months

• Hepatitis A — 12-18 months

• Varicella (chickenpox) — 12-18 months and 4-6 years

• HPV (human papilloma virus) — 11-12 years

• Tdap — (tetanus, 11-12 years diphtheria and pertussis)

• MCV4 (meningococcal disease) — 11 years and 18 years

School nurses in Barton County sent letters to parents in April about immunizations their children would need.  Now, with the start of the new school year only a week away, the Barton County Health Department has seen a jump in families bringing kids in for the required shots.  It’s that way every year, said Melissa Hagerman, RN.  One thing families should keep in mind, she said, is there are also some important vaccinations available to children that parents forget about because they are not required.
Any parent who has sent a child off to college for the first time knows that the Meningococcal vaccine is a requirement.  In the past, it has typically been administered at age 18.  But in recent years, Centers for Disease Control has begun recommending children receive the vaccine as young as age 11, with a booster administered at age 18.  
Meningitis is a fast-moving, sometimes deadly bacterial disease which infects the covering of the brain and the spinal cord.  While only a small percentage of people in the United States contract the disease each year—about 1,000 to 1,200 total — it is very fast moving and can have devastating effects like the loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems, seizures and strokes, or even death in about 10 to 15 percent of victims, even those who receive antibiotics.
It spreads quickly too, through bodily fluids.  In fact, one of the easiest ways is through sharing water bottles, either intentionally or by accident, Hagerman said.
“Anywhere young people are in close contact with one another, it can spread,” she said.    
Another vaccine that is not required, but highly recommended is for HPV or human papilloma virus, which is transmitted through sexual intercourse.  Women who contract the disease are at a significantly higher risk of developing cervical cancer and genital warts.  Most of the time, there are no symptoms, so people who have it may not know until it’s too late.
The vaccination is only a preventative measure and is only licensed for people between the ages of 9 and 26 years.  It is not a cure.  In fact, there is no cure, only treatment, and that is why it is recommended children receive the vaccine before they become sexually active.  
Immunization records are easily shared by county health departments through WebIZ,which makes it easy for families new to the area to transfer the information to a new school district.  For those moving from out of state, the health department can request immunization records between states.  But for parents who have moved several times, and may have lost track, there is no danger in starting over again, said Karen Winkelman, RN.    
The health department is open Monday through Friday during the day, and with extended hours on Thursday.  No appointment is necessary for immunization.  

A more detailed look at the childhood vaccinations

HPV (human papilloma virus)
The vaccine protects against sexually transmitted viruses found in most adults that cause cervical cancer in some women. It  is recommended for 11- and 12- year-old girls to protect them before they become sexually active, and for women age 26 and under. It is available in clinics this year, and given in three doses within six months.

The vaccine protects against the virus that causes severe diarrhea in children. Although rarely fatal in this country, each year the infection results in 200,000 visits to emergency rooms and 70,000 hospitalizations nationwide. This new version is different from the vaccine that was pulled from the market several years ago after being linked to dangerous intestinal blockages in some babies. This vaccine has been tested in more than 70,000 children in 11 countries.

MMRV (measles, mumps,
rubella, varicella)
The MMR combination (measles, mumps rubella) has been a standard childhood vaccine for many years. The new one also includes varicella, or chickenpox. For reasons unknown, a single dose fails to protect a small minority of the population from the infections. However, a second dose of vaccine is almost completely effective. The federal government recommends that all children get a second vaccine before kindergarten. Infectious-disease experts say the outbreak of mumps in Iowa this year could be related to people who had only one dose of vaccine. That’s why they now say that kids headed for college, where risk of mumps infection is high, should be sure they’ve had a second dose of vaccine before they go.

Hib (haemophilus
influenza Type B)
The vaccine protects against a bacterium that used to be one of the most frequent causes of meningitis, the dangerous brain and spinal cord inflammation, in children. Before the vaccine was introduced in 1998, about 20,000 children a year were hospitalized, and 1,000 died from the infection. Since vaccination against it has become routine, the disease has almost disappeared in the United States. It’s given to infants in a series of three or four doses. Influenza Flu shots are given annually because the vaccine changes each year to match the influenza viruses that are expected to prevail during the coming season. Children ages 6 to 59 months should get a flu shot. And those 8 and under who are getting the vaccine for the first time should get two, spaced at least four weeks apart.

In the 1950s there were 13,000 to 20,000 cases of severe polio per year, leading to paralysis, disability anddeath. Since the vaccines were introduced in the 1960s, the disease has almost disappeared in the United States. The vaccine is given as a series of three doses between 2 and 18 months, and then as a booster before kindergarten.

The vaccine protects against the most common bacteria that cause pneumococcal infections, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and other diseases. It is given in four doses.

DTap/Tdap (tetanus,
diphtheria and pertussis)
DTap is given in four doses to children under 7 to protect them against all three diseases. But immunity can fade over time. As a result, experts are now recommending that all adolescents and adults get Tdap, a new booster vaccine approved in 2005. It would replace one tetanus booster shot, which should be renewed every 10 years.

Hepatitis A
It protects against a virus that can cause severe liver damage. The virus is spread by close personal contact and sharing food and drinking containers. Once recommended for people in high-risk groups or in regions where the incidence was high, it is now recommended for all children. It is given in two doses, six to 18 months apart.

Hepatitis B
The virus causes severe liver damage and is the most common cause of liver cancer. The vaccine, given in three or four doses, has been recommended for infants for many years. Experts now recommend that the first dose be given to newborns within hours of birth because infected mothers can transmit the virus to their babies during labor. Most pregnant women are tested for Hepatitis B, and if positive, their babies are vaccinated right away. But on rare occasions mothers with the virus were slipping through the cracks. So now the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all newborns be vaccinated before leaving the hospital.

MCV4 (meningococcal disease)
The vaccine protects against four types of meningococcal disease that cause sometimes-fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. MCV4 was licensed last year and provides better protection than the earlier vaccine. It is now recommended for children starting at age 11. But there is a temporary shortage, so a CDC advisory committee is asking doctors to defer giving it to younger children in favor of those at higher risk — primarily those entering high school and college — until supplies increase later this year.

Varicella (chickenpox)
Chickenpox vaccine, routinely given to children since 1985, has led to a dramatic decline in the disease. Still, outbreaks among immunized people have occurred, suggesting that protection wanes over time. The CDC immunization advisory committee recommended in June that children get a second dose of vaccine when they start kindergarten. It will be included in the new measles, mumps, rubella, varicella combination vaccine, or MMRV.