Whooping cough booster a bust and other vaccination news

VaccinationIf you want to stay up to date on vaccination recommendations, there are several things to be aware of.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an updated immunization schedule with several changes, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a study confirming the waning effectiveness of a key adolescent immunization, the booster against Pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

The study “Waning Tdap Effectiveness in Adolescence” concludes that the booster vaccine against pertussis has moderate protection the first year but then wanes rapidly. Despite high Tdap vaccine coverage among adolescents, California experienced large pertussis outbreaks in 2010 and 2014, according to the study.

Children receive the diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (Dtap) vaccine at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12-18 months and at age 4-6 years to protect against the three deadly diseases. Adolescents receive a routine booster dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine (Tdap, a slightly different formula) at age 11 or 12. But after the first year, the effectiveness of the Tdap booster begins to wane and is less than 9 percent effective by the fourth year.

“We expect future pertussis epidemics to be larger,” the study concludes. “The results of this study raise serious questions regarding the benefits of routinely administering a single dose of Tdap to every adolescent aged 11 or 12 years.”

Instead, the study recommends that until a long-lasting vaccine is developed, Tdap may more effectively contain pertussis if it is administered to adolescents in anticipation of a local pertussis outbreak rather than on a routine basis.

Updated Immunization Schedule

The 2016 childhood and adolescent immunization schedule includes updated recommendations for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and a new vaccine to protect against meningitis.

The schedule includes a new HPV vaccine, 9vHPV, which was approved in 2014 and covers nine strains of HPV. The new vaccine offers protection against at least 80 percent of the cervical, vulvar and anal cancers caused by HPV, according to information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The schedule continues to recommend HPV vaccination beginning at age 11, but now advises children with a history of of sexual abuse be vaccinated at age 9 because of their increased risk of HPV.

The meningococcal B vaccine, which protects against a rare but life-threatening infection that affects the brain, is now recommended for certain adolescents, depending on a health care provider's assessment of a teen's individual risk. For children at high risk, the schedule recommends the vaccine as early as age 10.

“The meningococcal B vaccine was approved in 2014 by the Food and Drug Administration through an accelerated process in response to several outbreaks at U.S. colleges,” the AAP states.

The schedule continues to recommend the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine for all adolescents 11 -12 years and a booster at age 16 to protect against four other strains of the bacteria.

By Betsy Stein

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