Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Vaccines, Medical Homes, and Cancer Prevention

An Updated Immunization Schedule

The 2017 update of recommended immunization schedules for children and adults were published recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). These recommendations represent agreement among professional societies and ACIP. Physicians use the schedules to ensure patients receive the right vaccinations for their age and medical condition. This year’s schedules came with a few changes worth noting.

  • ACIP now recommends boys and girls between 9 and 14 years of age only receive two doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, instead of the previously recommended three doses, because of the better response at the younger ages; those who begin the series at 15 years of age or older will require three doses. 
  • People with egg allergies can now take any age-appropriate flu vaccine instead of relying solely on an egg-free flu vaccine. 
  • The nasal flu vaccine is no longer recommended, as it is deemed too ineffective. 
  • The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for adults with chronic liver diseases like hepatitis C and cirrhosis. 
  • And the meningococcal B vaccine may be given to certain high-risk groups, like individuals between 16 and 23 years old who will be attending college.

Check out the child and adult schedules, and talk with your doctor to make sure you and your family are receiving the right vaccinations at the right time.

Medical Homes Improve Vaccination Rates

Dr. Siegel
Jane Siegel, MD, a Corpus Christi pediatric infectious disease physician, knows how essential vaccines are to both public health and individual patient health. She says one of the best ways to guarantee patients stay on top of their vaccinations is through a medical home ― a physician-led health care team that looks after a patient’s comprehensive and continuous medical care.

“Visits to a medical home provide opportunities to counsel patients on a variety of wellness topics, including vaccinations,” said Dr. Siegel. “It is a time to ensure our patients live in a safe environment in their home and that patients and families are fully informed about preventive practices like vaccines. It is important to remember: Every health care encounter is an opportunity to vaccinate.”

Medical home visits also “provide opportunities for vaccine-hesitant families to develop trust in the physician and provider team and learn the facts about vaccination,” added Dr. Siegel. “This is especially important in Texas, where the number of children getting school vaccine exemptions continues to increase yearly.”

And when it comes to maintaining accurate vaccination records for schools, a medical home can’t be beat, said Dr. Siegel: “The medical home is the best in position to maintain complete records so adolescents will have their immunization records required for higher education and jobs in areas where vaccinations are required.”

Vaccines Can Prevent Cancer

It can’t be said enough: In addition to preventing infection, some vaccines can even prevent certain cancers, stressed Dr. Siegel.

Specifically, “the HPV vaccine reduces the risk of cervical, vulvar, anal, penile, and head and neck cancers,” she said.  ”And the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine reduces the risk of hepatocellular (liver) cancer. If parents and patients understand a safe vaccine can prevent cancer, who would not want to accept that vaccine?”

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