Hawaii Health Department Recommends Preteen Vaccinations

February 8, 2011, 12:38 PM HST
* Updated February 8, 12:40 PM
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The state Department of Health has launched a new immunization campaign to promote recommended immunizations for preteens.

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The DOH Immunization Branch recommends that preteens ages 11 and 12 get vaccinations to protect them from whooping cough, meningococcal, human papillomavirus, and influenza infections.

According to the 2009 National Immunization Survey – Teen Data, Hawaii’s vaccination coverage estimates among adolescents aged 13-17 years ranged between 39% and 51% depending on the vaccine type. DOH officials say this implies a considerable proportion of adolescents remain at risk for the following diseases:

1. Pertussis (whooping cough) – Highly contagious and causes severe coughing fits that could last for weeks or months; increased numbers of cases have been noted the past year on the mainland.

2. Meningococcal infection – Despite antibiotics, potentially fatal. Survivors sometimes have long-lasting disabilities including loss of limb or brain damage.

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3. Human papillomavirus infection – Causes cervical cancer in women and genital warts in men and women.

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“Vaccines aren’t just for infants. As children get older, the protection provided by childhood vaccines like pertussis can wear off and the risk for diseases such as meningococcal or human papillomavirus infection can increase or emerge as they enter their teenage years,” said Dr. Sarah Y. Park, State Epidemiologist. “Vaccination is the best way we can protect our children.”

More information is available at:  www.vaccinateby13.doh.hawaii.gov.

(Supporting information courtesy Hawaii State Department of Health)

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