LONG BRANCH, NJ – The new 2012 Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedules have recently been released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The schedule outlines immunizations for newborns up to age 6, children ages 7 to 18, and a “catch-up schedule” for children and adolescents who fall more than one month behind the scheduled timeline. The 2012 guidelines contain significant changes to the recommendations, especially in terms of a pediatrician’s role in vaccinating parents and other family members in order to protect infants under 6 months.
“The influenza vaccine, for example, is not effective in children under 6 months of age. The only way we can protect them is to be sure that everyone around them is immunized against influenza,” said Meg Fisher, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility.
Dr. Fisher suggests that pediatricians can help protect infants by reminding parents and family members to get vaccinated, as well as providing the vaccine in their offices.
Another new recommendation suggests that pregnant women receive a vaccine to protect against pertussis in an attempt to “cocoon” infants.
“The only way to truly protect these infants is to immuunize everyone around them, including “cocooning”, meaning immunizing their mothers during pregnancy,” said Dr. Fisher. “Not only will the mother be protected against pertussis if exposed, but the baby will be protected as long as the mother’s antibodies last—usually for six months. During that time, the child is immunized and begins making his or her own antibodies.”
In addition to the recommendations outlined for newborns, the 2012 schedule suggests vaccinating 11- and 12-year-old boys against the human papillomavirus (HPV). According to Dr. Fisher, antibody response to the vaccine is better at this age than at 16 or older.
“It makes perfect sense to vaccinate boys—both to protect them, and to prevent them from infecting girls. We want to protect our teens before they get exposed to these viruses, and we can help protect all of our adolescents by immunizing both boys and girls,” said Dr. Fisher.
“Prevention is key to keeping our children safe, and vaccines are the best way to protect our children and ourselves,” said Dr. Fisher.
For more information on the changing immunization recommendations, check with your pediatrician to ensure your child is up-to-date.
About Monmouth Medical Center
Located in Long Branch, N.J., Monmouth Medical Center, an affiliate of Barnabas Health, along with the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, is one of New Jersey's largest academic medical centers and has been a teaching affiliate of Philadelphia’s Drexel University College of Medicine for more than 40 years. From its earliest days, Monmouth Medical Center has been a leader in surgical advancement and has introduced many technological firsts to the region, including robotic surgery and other minimally invasive techniques. The hospital is routinely recognized by HealthGrades, the nation’s largest premier independent health care quality company, for excellence in both emergency medicine and maternity care. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Monmouth as a regional leader in cancer, geriatrics, gynecology, neurology and neurosurgery. For more information on Monmouth Medical Center, visit www.barnabashealth.org.
March 20, 2012
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