Updated guidelines for parents.
Have you ever wondered how your children’s health care provider knows which immunizations your kids need and when to administer them? The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are groups of public health and medical experts who critically review immunization research and develop recommendations for our immunization schedule in the United States.
A few updates were added to the 2015 immunization schedule. Revisions to this year’s schedule provide further clarification on the immunization recommendations for influenza; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); and meningococcal.
You can view a summary of the newly updated immunization schedule at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/child-adolescent.html#chgs.
You know the influenza virus can make your child feel terrible. The infection is notorious for causing headaches, fever, chills and a cough that seems to drag on for weeks. However, the influenza virus can also cause serious secondary infections, such as pneumonia. Children with asthma or weakened immune systems seem to be especially susceptible to influenza infections and are at the highest risk for developing complications. It is important to immunize your kids against influenza so they are protected against the potentially devastating disease. Immunizing also prevents the spread to other children with asthma or weakened immune systems, as well as those with whom they come into contact.
The live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is in the form of a nasal spray, administered with a single spray in each nostril. Children are eligible to receive it starting at age two unless they: (1) have had a previous severe allergic reaction to LAIV or any other influenza vaccine, (2) are taking aspirin or aspirin-containing products, (3) have an allergy to eggs, (4) have a weakened immune system, (5) have had asthma at two through four years of age or have had wheezing in the past 12 months or (6) have had ingestion of influenza antiviral medications in the last 48 hours.
The MMR immunization provides immunity against measles, mumps and rubella. These three diseases are extremely contagious and can cause life-altering side effects such as loss of sight and hearing. Because most infants in the U.S. are born with antibodies from their mothers, the MMR is not recommended until 12 months of age because the immune response from the immunization is suboptimal for infants who already have some protection from their mothers.
Traveling abroad raises the risk of exposure to measles, mumps and rubella. While usually recommended for children 12 months of age and older, the MMR vaccine is perfectly safe for infants as young as 6 months of age. Because the risk for contracting measles, mumps and/or rubella increases with international travel, the ACIP recommends infants traveling abroad receive the MMR immunization as early as 6 months of age. It is imperative to ensure your children receive the MMR vaccine prior to travel to protect against contracting the illness and then potentially spreading the disease to those in their home communities upon their return.
Neisseria Meningitidis is a bacterium found in the back of the nose and throat of ten percent of the population. Meningitis is a very serious condition that can cause permanent brain damage, hearing loss and even death and occurs when these bacteria invade the membranes covering the spinal cord and brain.
After infecting the spinal cord and brain, the bacteria can then enter the bloodstream (known as septicemia) and wreak havoc on blood vessels, causing bleeding into the skin and organs. Septicemia can cause permanent disabilities, amputation of fingers, toes and limbs, and can lead to death in only a matter of hours.
he ACIP 2015 updates include clarifying appropriate dosing schedules for high-risk infants and children. Those considered high-risk include kids: (1) without a spleen/well-functioning spleen, (2) with weakened immune systems and (3) traveling to countries where meningococcal disease is prevalent.
Students in college have the highest rate of contracting meningococcal disease due to their close living proximity in dorms and apartments.
It is recommended that all preteens 11 to 12 years of age receive the meningococcal conjugate immunization and a booster dose at age 16.
The booster is recommended because protection declines in most adolescents within five years. Preteens receiving only the first dose of the meningococcal vaccine will not have adequate protection during the critical years when there is a very high risk for meningitis. In fact, many colleges are now requiring a meningococcal booster before entry. The ACIP recommends that young adults receive the vaccines less than five years before starting higher education.
Staying current on ACIP recommendations for immunizations is a great way to take charge of your children’s health care. With the rising rates of immunization-preventable diseases, it is important to protect your children by getting them immunized properly.
Lacey Eden, MS, FNP-C, is an Assistant Teaching Professor and teaches in the graduate program in the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University. She is a primary care provider in a busy pediatric clinic in Draper, UT.
Karlen Luthy, DNP, FNP, is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at Brigham Young University and teaches in the graduate program. She is a primary care provider in a clinic in Salem, UT.
Brooke Stacey, RN-S, is a busy undergraduate nursing student at Brigham Young University.