As it does each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its new guidelines for what types of vaccines are needed, how often and at what point in life. The sets of guidelines, for adults and for children, are based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (or ACIP), which three times a year examines the latest research on vaccinations.
Some of the changes are intended to clarify details for physicians, such as which polio vaccinations administered overseas meet the U.S. requirements.
But others provide useful information to patients and parents as well as to their doctors. For families, here are the highlights of the CDC’s 2017 changes to the vaccination guidelines:
- As ACIP recommended in 2016, older children and younger adolescents who receive the HPV vaccine, which protects against cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, need to receive only two doses, not the previously recommended three. Older teenagers still require three doses. The two-dose schedule is expected to raise the numbers of American adolescents who are fully vaccinated against HPV; as a practical matter, it already has because teenagers who already received their two doses before age 15, and got them at least five months apart, are now considered fully vaccinated. The recommendation certainly provides an incentive to get this immunization taken care of early!
- Speaking of early, it’s now considered fine for children as young as 9 years old to receive the HPV vaccine, even if they are not at particular risk.
- A separate column has been created for 16-year-olds to make it clear that they need a booster for meningococcal disease at this age.
- The CDC has also made it clearer that the vaccine against hepatitis B should be given within 24 hours of birth, in case the mother has an undetected infection.
- According to Harvard Health Publications, the CDC added a new tab to help doctors know more about the vaccinations needed by children with special health conditions such as sickle cell disease, severe asthma and immune system problems.
- In 2016, ACIP found that the nasal flu vaccine had shown very little effectiveness in recent years. As a result, doctors and parents were advised not to use that form of the vaccine, which had been a popular choice for children because it doesn’t require a painful shot. The 2017 CDC guidelines make it clear that neither children nor adults should receive the nasal mist this year. In 2015-16, ACIP discovered, the nasal vaccine was only about 3 percent effective in children aged 2 to 17, which means they received almost no protection from it.
- The rules clarify which adults in their 20s needed three doses of HPV vaccine, and who needs only one additional dose or can be considered fully vaccinated without any more doses.
Of course, if you have any questions about these new rules, or have medical conditions that might affect your vaccination schedule, consult your doctor.
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