CINCINNATI—Even though you may think of whooping cough as one of those ailments from Grandma’s day, the truth is it’s still around and plaguing people of all ages.
This illness and others like it are passed from person-to-person everyday. Many of these infections are even life-threatening for youngsters.
Michael Benedict, MD, a University of Cincinnati (UC) assistant professor and physician for internal medicine and pediatrics at University Pointe, said immunization is key in preventing common and not-so-common illnesses, like whooping cough, from spreading.
“Immunizations are one of the biggest public health successes for eliminating potentially life-threatening diseases,” he said.
He advises that all children receive the correct immunizations at the proper time to ensure the highest quality of health.
With school beginning shortly, Benedict added that now is a good time for parents to review vaccination schedules to see if their children are up-to-date.
The following are recommended immunizations:
- HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type B)
- MMR (measles/mumps/rubella)
- DTP (diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis)
- Hepatitis B
- Chicken pox
- Prevnar, to protect against pneumonia
But doctors are always adding new suggestions to the mix.
“We’re trying to administer the meningitis vaccine at the age of 11 or 12, or before the child reaches high school,” Benedict said. “Children are at the greatest risk of contracting a severe form of the illness between the ages of 15 and 25. By giving the vaccine earlier, children will be protected when they need it most, including their entrance to college when they are at particularly high risk.”
Benedict also recommends hepatitis A vaccines for younger children; pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccines for adolescents; and the new Gardasil medication to prevent the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) infection—which can lead to genital warts, abnormal Pap tests and cervical cancer—in young girls.
Despite the controversy over administering Gardasil to young people who are not supposed to be sexually active, Benedict said he can see the benefits.
“I think every opportunity should be taken to prevent illness,” he said.
Benedict suggested parents keep up with the long list of shots their kids get every few years. He added that it’s safe to immunize a child who has minor cold or flu symptoms.
“Ask your doctor to write down what vaccines your child has been given,” he said. “The beginning of the school year is a great time to learn about new vaccines and to make sure your kids are up-to-date with their immunizations.”