LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of the NBA Cares All-Star Community Caravan, WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie, Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier and Clippers Forward Brian Cook teamed up with NBA Cares and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) today to bring Vaccines for Teens to the Los Angeles community. Vaccines for Teens is a national awareness campaign designed to educate teens and their parents about the importance of vaccination against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
To tip off the campaign locally, Leslie, Lanier and Cook appeared at Lou Dantzler Middle School in Los Angeles to urge parents of preteens and teens to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family physicians.
Teens are at risk for serious infections such as influenza, meningococcal disease (meningitis) and pertussis (whooping cough). The basketball superstars and local community leaders agree that it is now more important than ever to help protect preteens and teens in Los Angeles area from potentially life-threatening complications of these diseases. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination for preteens and teens against influenza, meningococcal disease and pertussis.
"Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and should be encouraged for the students at Lou Dantzler Middle School and for teens throughout the Los Angeles area," said Leslie. "In basketball, the best offense is a good defense, and the same holds true for protecting teen health."
Adolescent Immunization is More Important than Ever in Los Angeles
Although the CDC and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination against influenza, meningococcal disease and pertussis, immunization rates for prevention of all three diseases among preteens and teens remain unacceptably low in California, where only half of teens between 13 and 17 years of age have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and pertussis.
Adolescent immunization in Los Angeles is a very important community health issue. In 2010, 480 cases of pertussis were reported in Los Angeles County. To help protect teens from pertussis, particularly in light of the statewide epidemic, the California Department of Public Health will require that as of the 2011-2012 academic year, all students entering 7th - 12th grades receive a tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster. Meningococcal disease, which peaks during the late-winter months, continues to affect local families. In 2009, Los Angeles County experienced 13 cases of meningitis, reinforcing the need for Los Angeles area parents to have their children vaccinated against this potentially deadly disease.
Additionally, with seasonal influenza currently circulating in the area, the CDC is encouraging preteens and teens to be vaccinated against the virus. Between 192,468 and 769,875 Los Angeles-area residents suffer from influenza annually, yet immunization rates fall short each year.
"With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student," said Felicia Scott, MD of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help teens stay protected, yet immunization rates remain low in this population."
Teens and their parents can learn more about risk factors for getting sick with vaccine-preventable diseases, and the benefits of vaccination, by visiting www.vaccinesforteens.net.
About Vaccine-preventable Adolescent Diseases
Immunization is critically important for adolescents because they are at risk for serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.
Influenza is a viral infection that can become serious enough to keep teens home from school, sports and other activities. It can sometimes result in a visit to their health care provider or even the hospital or lead to serious complications like pneumonia or even death. Vaccination is the best protection against the spread of the influenza virus. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated against influenza each year. This year, the seasonal influenza vaccine includes the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so only the seasonal influenza vaccine is needed. Vaccination begins as soon as vaccine becomes available, usually in August, and continues into spring or as long as the influenza virus is in circulation. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.
Meningococcal Disease / Meningococcal Meningitis
Although rare, meningococcal disease, including meningitis, is a serious, life-threatening infection that moves quickly and can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours of first symptoms. Early symptoms may be similar to influenza, making it difficult for health-care providers to diagnose. Currently, the CDC recommends that all preteens and teens 11 through 18 years of age be vaccinated against meningococcal disease at the earliest possible health-care visit – ideally, during the routine 11- or 12-year-old check-up.
Pertussis, Commonly Called "Whooping Cough"
Pertussis is one of the most common respiratory diseases in American teens and adults. It causes a prolonged cough that can last weeks or months and can result in pneumonia or hospitalization. Teens and adults can spread pertussis to younger children, who can develop a life-threatening pertussis infection. The CDC recommends a single booster dose of Tdap vaccine for people 11 through 64 years of age; immunity to the pertussis vaccine decreases over time, so teens who don't receive a booster vaccine may become vulnerable to this disease.
About the Vaccines for Teens Campaign
The NBA and the WNBA are collaborating with the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) and sanofi pasteur on Vaccines for Teens, a national campaign designed to help educate parents and their teens about the importance of getting vaccinated.
About NBA Cares
NBA Cares is the league's social responsibility initiative that builds on the NBA's long tradition of addressing important social issues in the United States and around the world. Through this umbrella program, the NBA, its teams and players have donated than $145 million to charity, completed more than 1.4 million hours of hands-on community service, and created more than 525 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play, in 22 countries on five continents. NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: KaBOOM!, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
About the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
SAHM is a multi-disciplinary organization of health professionals who are committed to advancing the health and well-being of adolescents. Through education, research, clinical services, and advocacy activities, members of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine strive to enhance public and professional awareness of adolescent health issues among families, educators, policy makers, youth-serving organizations, students who are considering a health career as well as other health professionals. SAHM members come from many different professional disciplines but share the common goal of better understanding the unique health needs and concerns of adolescents. For more information on SAHM, log onto www.adolescenthealth.org.
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY). For more information, please visit: www.sanofi-aventis.com.
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group, provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccine in 2009, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us.
SOURCE Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine