Teens need immunizations
By Pam Reinig
Clayton County is a leader in childhood immunizations but is falling below the state average in adolescent vaccinations.
According to a recently released annual report from the Iowa Department of Public Health on multiple immunization coverage rates for individual counties and the state, Clayton County has an immunization rate of 76 percent for 2-year-old children, compared to the overall state rate of 71 percent. The immunization rate of adolescents 13 to15 years of age is 19 percent, compared to the state rate of 39 percent.
“We’re very pleased with Clayton County’s immunization rate for the 2-year-old children but we need to improve our adolescent rate as a community,” said Clayton County VNA Director Nancy Yelden, RN. “Vaccine-preventable diseases that were common 40 years ago are now rare due to the development of new vaccines and achievement of high immunization rates. We must remain diligent in our efforts to promote vaccines by providing sound science-based education so we can continue to improve the rates in our county.”
Recommended vaccines for adolescents include meningococcal (meningitis) at age 11-18 yrs. of age. “The risks of not receiving this vaccine would be contracting meningitis, which is a serious bacterial illness that is transmitted easily among young adults and can be fatal,” Yelden said.
Also recommended is the Human Papillomavirus vaccine HPV), which prevents sexually transmitted viruses that can cause cancer in men and women at age 9-18 years; Hepatitis A , which is given in two doses at age 1-18 years; and T-dap at age 11-18 years, which is a booster of tetanus vaccine and whooping cough (pertussis).
Local public health agencies perform annual audits of immunization records for children in licensed child care centers, and kindergarten through 12th grade students enrolled in public, private and parochial schools. Assessments of children attending licensed childcare centers or elementary or secondary school are conducted to ensure attendees have received the required immunizations, and have a valid Iowa Department of Public Health immunization certificate. According to the report, 96.63 percent of the children that attend licensed childcare centers in Clayton County have a valid immunization certificate, compared to the overall state rate of 95.09 percent. Of children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, 99.96 percent have a valid certificate of immunization, compared to the state rate of 99.19 percent.
Vaccines are one of the most important public health advances on record, resulting in the eradication of smallpox; elimination of poliomyelitis in the Americas; and control of measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type b, and other infectious diseases in the United States and other parts of the world.