Three Vaccines You Need To Know About

Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, we firmly believe in immunizing your child against preventable diseases and feel that this is one of the best ways to keep him/her healthy and thriving. Short of basic sanitation and nutrition, no medical intervention has done more to save lives and prevent disease than immunizations. Plus, vaccines cause virtually no significant adverse effects.

The following are three vaccines you especially need to be aware of for the health of your child:

Gardasil® Vaccine

Peter Richel, MD, FAAP

This is the recently newsworthy vaccine that prevents infection from the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, a serious sexually-transmitted disease that can lead to cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancer, as well as genital warts.

The most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV is a viral infection that can be spread from one person to another person through anal, vaginal or oral sex, or through other close skin-to-skin touching during sexual activity. If you are sexually active, you can get HPV. Nearly all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point in their lives.

The CDC recommends vaccination with Gardasil for boys and girls starting at age 11 or 12, and it is given in 3 injections over 6 months.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

This is not a new vaccine, but it is now recommended to be given to patients ages 12 months and older and consists of 2 vaccines given at least 6 months apart. Formerly recommended only to those traveling abroad, it is now recommended for routine use to create immunity.

Typically, people contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who is infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A do not require treatment and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage. Practicing good hygiene, especially washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A.

Menactra Vaccine

This vaccine is given to help prevent a meningococcal infection, caused by bacteria known as meningococcous which can invade the bloodstream and cause bacteremia (infection in the blood) or meningitis (infection in the meninges) which are both life-threatening illnesses. Fortunately, meningococcal infections are not common.

Symptoms include extreme illness, fever and a characteristic rash known as purpura which appears as areas of broken blood vessels and bruising. This infection requires immediate hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics, yet may result in limb amputations due to the course and nature of the infection.

Infection typically occurs when a person is in close quarters with others, such as sleep-away camps, college dorms and army barracks. This is because individuals may be asymptomatic carriers and may spread the infection through their secretions (coughing, sneezing, sharing water bottles, etc.). The menactra vaccine is given to persons aged 11 and older, and requires no booster. It may also be given to those younger than 11 who are at increased risk (attend sleep-away camps and/or have underlying medical issues).

Be safe…have your child vaccinated!

For more information about vaccines and the importance of immunizing your child, please contact one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics physicians and check out the Immunizations page on our website.

By Peter Richel, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

by WHA-Admin