Hello! My name is Mary O’Leary and I am the newest member of the Healthy Communities Team. I'm a health educator focusing on vaccine preventable diseases. My role is to promote the use of vaccines in Snohomish County residents of all ages through education and ensured access. One area of concern is the under-use of adolescent vaccines.
Vaccines targeted to adolescents are relatively new to national immunization schedules and recommendations for their use continue to evolve. Three of them address increased risks for disease from the mid-teen years through the early twenties: Human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal ACWY, and meningococcal B.
HPV infections cause over 350,000 cases of genital warts and over 30,000 cancers in the United States every year. If administered before infection occurs, the current HPV vaccine can prevent the majority of these outcomes.
Meningococcal disease is rare, but devastating. It is the only vaccine-preventable disease with mortality rates in the double digits, even when appropriate antibiotic treatment is administered. It progresses quickly and can lead to deafness, neurologic damage, and loss of limbs. One vaccine prevents against 4 disease strains: A,C,W, and Y. It is routinely recommended for all teens. The meningococcal B vaccine is available to those who want protection from this strain.
These vaccines, along with a Tdap booster for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) and a flu shot every year will protect teens and their friends and families from potentially serious diseases.
Follow this link to the adolescent immunization schedule.