Is it time for your baby’s 144-month shots? Yes, teenagers need vaccinations too, urge the Immunization Coalition of Summit County and Dr. Susan Shah of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Twinsburg. By receiving proper vaccinations as children grow up they are protected from preventable diseases such as whooping cough, tetanus, meningitis and HPV.
“Children encounter risks for more diseases as they get older,” said Dr. Shah. “The shots they receive as babies are not enough to last them a lifetime.”
The Coalition – which includes Summit County Public Health, Akron Children’s Hospital and about 35 members from community service groups, hospitals, health department and businesses in the Summit County area – is asking parents to check that their teenagers’ vaccinations are up to date based on gold-standard recommendations by American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Department of Health and Center for Disease Controls Immunization Program.
If parents are unsure, they can call their primary care provider or attend a vaccination clinic at one of the many Summit County Public Health sites listed below.
“Keeping teenagers’ immunizations current is important because there are many diseases that we are able to prevent today that we were unable to protect against just 10 years ago,” Dr. Shah said.
Since 2009, the local Coalition has been leading a wide-spread awareness campaign for June as Teen Vaccination Month to help combat the fact that immunization rates for teens (ages 13-17) in Ohio and throughout the United States are far below national goals, according to Wendy Brolly, RN, BSN, a Coalition co-chair and a nurse with Summit County Public Health’s Immunization Action Program.
“The only time it's safe to stop a vaccination is when a disease has been totally wiped out worldwide, as in the case of smallpox,” Brolly said. “We have been working hard to educate and remind parents to vaccinate.”
The Coalition encourages parents to speak with a doctor, if they see, hear or read about side effects or downsides of immunization. “It's important to get all of the facts before making a decision to delay or skip an immunization – a choice that could affect not only your kid’s health but that of others,” said Debbie Clouse, RN, MSN, a Coalition co-chair and clinical manager for Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics.
Additionally, lower disease rates among teens may also lower their chances of passing diseases to the elderly, children and infants. “Protection for one means protection for all,” said Clouse.
Beyond the United States
According to Dr. Marguerite A. Erme, medical director of Summit County Public Health, although the United States has relatively low numbers of vaccine preventable diseases, teens may be exposed when traveling to other countries or from visitors from other countries where these diseases are more common and the vaccination rates are not as high.
“Many people look at the low numbers in the United States and feel the risk is not high for their children to get vaccinations,” she said. “Outbreaks of measles and mumps in the United States have typically started with an imported case.”
Where to Go
If your pediatrician or primary care physician does not offer vaccines, check with your local health department. Summit County Public Health offers the below vaccination clinics.
o Graham Road Clinic: 1100 Graham Rd. Circle, Stow, 330-375-2772, Mondays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
o North Clinic: 781 East Aurora Rd, Macedonia, 330-375-2772, last Wednesday of the month, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
o South Clinic: 2981 E. Waterloo Rd., Akron, 330-375-2772, Thursdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
o Merriman Clinic: 66 Merriman Rd., Akron, 330-375-2772, Mondays and Fridays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
o Barberton Clinic: 571 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, 330-375-2772, Tuesdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
o Morley Clinic: 177 S. Broadway, Akron, 330-375-2772, Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
o Arlington Rd. Clinic: 1400 S. Arlington St., Suite 28, Akron, 330-375-2772, Wednesdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
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