State health dept. calls for more immunizations for teens, adults

In Washington state, immunization rates among teenagers ages 13-17 are increasing in some areas, and staying static or dropping in others, according to data from the 2011 National Immunization Survey.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced the findings recently, saying that more focus needs to be put on immunizations for people of all ages in the state, especially in light of the recent whooping cough outbreak.

“The whooping cough epidemic reminds us that it’s vital for teens to get immunized on time,” said Mary Selecky, state secretary of health. “Immunizing teens is as important as immunizing young children — it protects the teens and everyone around them, especially babies who are too young for vaccination.”

While some improvement has been seen in teen immunization rates in Washington, the data shows the state is still falling short of vaccination goals.

A booster shot of the whooping cough vaccine, tDap, is recommended for anyone over age 11, due to the fact that the vaccine’s effectiveness declines throughout the years.

In regards to HPV vaccination, Washington state is still among the highest in the nation, with 69 percent of all females getting the first vaccination in the three-shot series. However, just 40 percent follow through on the second and third dose.

Selecky stressed the importance of making sure children are caught up on their vaccinations, and urged parents to take advantage of the times when their children are with a health care professional.

“Missing or delaying even one vaccine puts them at risk for catching and spreading disease,” Selecky said.

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