The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its annual report on adolescent vaccination coverage.
While it’s encouraging to see slight improvement in vaccination rates, too many Colorado teens remain under-vaccinated against serious infectious diseases. Rates are particularly low for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination series in Colorado – only 52.1 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys completed the HPV series. Nationally, just 39.1 percent of teens have received the recommended second dose of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), which means they might not be protected against meningococcal meningitis. Additionally, in 2015, less than half of teens 13 through 17 years of age received the influenza vaccine.
By Aimee Pugh-Bernard, PhD
In the tenth installment of the Immunology 101 Series, Aimee will explain the science behind the vaccines for influenza.
It’s that time of year again. You guessed it – time to get your annual flu shot! As an immunologist I relish this time of year. The flu shot lets me train my immune system to defend me against the flu virus. I must admit that I call my children’s pediatrician office every year in late August and sign up for the first flu shot clinic available. I make sure that my family will have an immune army built, trained, and ready to defend us long before influenza (aka ‘the flu’) makes it to Denver! I do this because I know that the vaccines for influenza are safe and effective and that illness from the flu is very serious and potentially deadly. As a scientist who has read the literature, I understand that the risk from the flu shot is minimal compared to the danger of becoming sick from the flu.
Most people I encounter who are skeptical about the flu vaccine have the same questions. They often wonder why we need to get a flu shot every year, if the flu shot can actually give you the flu (spoiler alert – no!), and if the flu is even really a serious disease (spoiler alert – yes!).
This month marked the launch of a new movement that serves to highlight that which is well-known but seldom stated: vaccination adds value to our lives. The Value of Vaccination (valueofvaccination.org) is calling attention to the benefits that vaccines bring to every community. The initiative features personal stories, videos demonstrating the positive impacts of vaccination, and easy-to-understand guides to the science behind vaccines and the immune system. The goal is to encourage conversation at home, at work, and at school about the value of vaccination. Read more
By Aimee Pugh-Bernard, PhD
True or False? A developing baby acquires protection against infectious diseases from its mother during pregnancy. TRUE! The immunizations a mother-to-be receives before and during pregnancy can help protect her newborn baby from some infectious diseases during the first few months of life.
In the eighth installment of the Immunology 101 Series, Aimee will explain the science behind immunization and pregnancy.