By Stacy Hall
Immunization Program Director
Louisiana Office of Public Health
The Louisiana Office of Public Health’s Immunization Program commends the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for creating a specific 16-year-old immunization column in the recommended vaccination schedule.
CDC released the 2017 Children and Adolescent Immunization Schedule adding the specific 16-year-old column to replace the previous 16-18 year-old column. The simplification allows providers and parents to more clearly understand the timing of vaccination and encourages a routine vaccination visit at age 16. This new platform has created a perfect opportunity to consider establishing a 16 year old vaccination visit in your medical practice. This change can serve as an impetus for your staff to improve vaccination rates for 16 year olds and as a perfect opportunity to help bring teens in for a visit to receive other essential healthcare services they may be missing.
Although, many adolescents obtain the first dose of the recommended vaccines, currently only one third (33%) of eligible adolescents receive the recommended second dose of meningococcal vaccine, less than 35% received the recommended doses of HPV vaccine, and less than half received influenza vaccine during the 2015-16 flu season. Teens need the second dose of meningococcal vaccine to be fully protected against the deadly meningitis A, C, W, and Y strains. HPV vaccinations could prevent around 12,000 cases of cervical cancer and approximately 4,000 deaths per year in the U.S.
The Louisiana Immunization Program is engaging in activities that address older adolescent vaccination and sees this as a great opportunity to increase adolescent immunization rates and improve preventative care in young adults.
The 2017 CDC Children and Adolescent Immunization Schedule can be found here.