The Vaccine Crisis

3 minute read

The rash of new Measles cases traced back to vacationers at disneyland, of all places, is renewing worries over vaccination rates. Most of the new infections stem from California, which has a comparatively low measles inoculation rate of 92.7%. (Mississippi’s is 99.9%.) But other preventable diseases afflict Americans. While California works to improve its rate, here are the latest vaccine guidelines you need to know.

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THE DISEASE THE NEW CASES THE VACCINE THE PROTOCOL WHOOPING COUGH In 2012 the U.S. saw a nearly 60-year high in cases, and in 2014 there were almost 30,000 reported infections. Many more cases go unreported. The childhood vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months and at 4 to 6 years. The booster should be given at 11 and to pregnant women. The CDC says the whooping-cough vaccine loses efficacy as people age, so people should consider a booster shot in adulthood. MEASLES In January, California saw 59 cases, which health officials traced back to people who weren’t inoculated or didn’t receive the full dose of the vaccine. With two full doses, MMR shots are 99% effective against measles, mumps and rubella. The first dose is given around age 1, the second at 4 to 6. Though the vaccine can wane over time, experts say getting two doses should protect against measles throughout adulthood. HPV HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and while most strains go away on their own, some can cause throat or genital cancers. There are two vaccines for HPV: Cervarix and Gardasil. Experts say girls and boys ages 11 to 12 should get vaccinated. Each vaccine is effective only if you get all three doses. Only 57.3% of adolescent girls and 34.6% of adolescent boys get even one dose. FLU It’s still early, but the 2014–2015 flu is especially nasty, and the vaccine is only 23% effective. This flu is on the rise and has killed 56 children so far. The shot changes every season based on which strains scientists predict will be dominant. It’s recommended for ages 6 months and up. Since flu viruses change rapidly, you need to get a new flu shot every year. SHINGLES One in three Americans will develop shingles at some point, with people over 60 at the greatest risk. Shingles and chicken pox are caused by the same virus. The vaccine for chicken pox is recommended for kids. The vaccine for shingles, called Zostavax, is for people 60 and up. The chicken-pox vaccine doesn’t prevent shingles. Make sure to get the shingles shot at age 60.

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