(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Every year, children may need new immunizations. Winter can be an excellent time to schedule them.
“In the fall, we get very busy with immunizations required for children who are starting a new school year, and with flu immunizations,” said Dr. Albert Arteaga, CEO and President of LaSalle Medical Associates. “But many immunizations can and should be given after a child’s birthday. If children don’t have the immunizations required for their age, or if they have a birthday coming soon, we encourage parents to call us to schedule an appointment.”
Four booster immunizations are needed for all kindergarteners before entering school for the first time, said Dr. Cheryl Emoto, director of medical services. These immunizations can be given to 4- and 5-year-olds at any time of year.
“Before they start kindergarten, children must receive boosters for DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and Varicella (chicken pox),” Dr. Emoto said. “Fortunately, there is a combination vaccine that is available that allows for only three injections instead of four
If parents have kept up with their child’s immunizations from birth, only the above booster immunizations are needed. However, if the child is behind on their other required immunizations, they may need several doses of immunizations to get “caught up.”
”If you start the vaccines long before school starts, the child does not have to receive all necessary injections at one time,” Dr. Emoto said.
New for 2010, says Dr. Emoto, was an updated pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 13). This vaccine includes added protection as compared to the older version (Prevnar 7) and all children between 15 months and 5 years of age should have one additional dose of the newer Prevnar, “even if your doctor previously told you that your child was up-to-date.”
When children turn 11, they should receive the meningitis vaccine for the first time, and a tetanus booster (Tdap), Dr. Emoto said. The Tdap vaccine is particularly important because not only does it help prevent tetanus, but it also includes additional protection for pertussis (the “p” part in Tdap).
“Pertussis causes whooping cough and there has been a steep increase in the number of cases of whooping cough this year,” Dr. Emoto said.
Parents should schedule these vaccines shortly after the child’s 11th birthday, but they also can be given to anyone, even those over 18.
“Children older than 11 who have not received these vaccines should also come in to get them,” she said. “And if you have a teenager who will start college in 2011, planning to live in a dormitory, and hasn’t been vaccinated for meningitis, they should be vaccinated now.”
In addition to the meningitis vaccine and Tdap, young people (boys and girls) ages 9-26 should receive a vaccine against the human papiloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease that infects the genitals, and can cause cancer in either sex, but is especially likely to cause cervical cancer in women. 2010 is the first year it has been available to males.
While giving this vaccine to children in elementary school is not without controversy, many doctors, including those at LaSalle Medical Associates, are highly in favor.
“The HPV virus is the main cause of cervical cancer in women,” Emoto explained. “It is important that a person receive three doses, which are given over a six-month period, before their first sexual encounter in order for the vaccine to be fully effective. Both young men and women can benefit from this vaccination, especially if they receive it before becoming sexually active.”
The key, Emoto said, is to have the vaccine before any sexual activity, and while parents might think their children will wait till they are older, statistics show that almost half of teenagers report at least one sexual encounter during high school. “Prevention, prior to exposure, with the HPV vaccine will prevent disease and save lives.”
About LaSalle Medical Associates
LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc., operates four clinics employing more than 120 dedicated healthcare professionals, treating children, adults, and seniors in San Bernardino County. LaSalle’s patients are primarily served by Medi-Cal and they also accept Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Molina, Care 1st, Health Net and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP). LaSalle’s clinics are at 17577 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, 16455 Main St. in Hesperia and 1505 West 17th St. and 565 N. Mt. Vernon Ave. in San Bernardino.
LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc., is also an Independent Practice Association (IPA) of independently contracted doctors, hospitals and clinics, delivering high quality care to more than 245,000 patients in Fresno, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin and Tulare Counties.
LaSalle’s IPA members in the Inland Empire include: LaSalle Medical Associates, Arrowhead Orthopedics, Arther Medical Group, Rancho Medical Group, Rancho Paseo Medical Group, Alessandro Medical Group Banning Medical Group, and San Bernardino Urological Associates. Hospital affiliations include: Rancho Springs Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Community Hospital of San Bernardino, St. Bernadine Medical Center, Mountains Community Hospital, Redland Community Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Corona Regional Medical Center, Riverside County Medical Center, Parkview Community Hospital.