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NBA Legends Bob Lanier and Nick Anderson Join Vaccines For Teens Educational Campaign To Help Local Teens Take Their Best Shot at Health

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Child Health News J E 4
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ORLANDO, March 16 Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Lanier and Orlando Magic Legend Nick Anderson teamed up with NBA Cares and the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) today to bring Vaccines for Teens to the Orlando community. Vaccines for Teens is a national multimedia 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, Lanier and Anderson appeared at the Glenridge Middle School in Orlando, Florida to urge parents of preteens and teens to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family physicians.

Teens are at risk for influenza disease, both seasonal and the influenza A (H1N1) virus, as well as for other serious infectious diseases such as meningococcal disease (including meningitis) and whooping cough (pertussis). The basketball superstar and local community leaders agree it is more important than ever to help protect preteens and teens in the Orlando area from the potentially life-threatening complications of these diseases.

"Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and is beneficial for the students at Glenridge Middle School and for teens throughout the Orlando area," said Anderson. "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 Orlando

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical groups recommend vaccination for preteens and teens against influenza, meningococcal meningitis and whooping cough (pertussis). Yet vaccination rates for all three diseases among this group remain alarmingly low in Florida, where fewer than 35 percent of teens between 13 and 17 years of age have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and whooping cough.

Adolescent immunization in Florida is a very important community health issue. Between 9,300 and 37,190 Orlando area residents suffer from influenza annually. The Florida Department of Health continues to encourage all Floridians, including preteens and teens, to be vaccinated against both strains of the virus. Amid concerns about influenza during this time of year, parents also need to know that late-winter and early-spring is peak season for meningococcal meningitis. In addition, statewide cases of whooping cough have increased during the past few years.

To help protect adolescents, new immunization requirements issued by the Florida Department of Health went into effect last fall requiring students entering seventh grade to receive one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

"With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student," said Veenod Chulani, M.D. of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. "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 vaccine-preventable diseases, including risk factors 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. Additionally, immunity from some childhood vaccines, such as whooping cough, decreases over time, so teens who don't receive a booster vaccine may become vulnerable.

Influenza

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 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 through 18 years of age get vaccinated against seasonal influenza, as well as A (H1N1) influenza. Vaccination typically begins in October and can continue through March. 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 flu-like symptoms, making it difficult for health-care providers to diagnose early. The CDC recommends that all preteens and teens receive one meningococcal vaccine shot at 11 through 18 years of age 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, which can become life-threatening. The CDC recommends a single booster dose of Tdap vaccine for people 11 through 64 years of age.

About the Vaccines for Teens Campaign

The NBA and the WNBA are collaborating with the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) 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 more than $120 million to charity, provided more than one million hours of hands-on service to communities around the world, and created more than 465 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play. 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 Medicine

The Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) is the only multi-disciplinary organization of health professionals committed exclusively to advancing the health of adolescents world-wide. SAM enhances public and professional awareness of adolescent health issues through education, research, clinical services, and advocacy activities. SAM also promotes the training of professionals about the unique health needs of adolescents. SAM's members believe that preteens, teenagers, and young adults receive the most effective care from professionals who have specialized training or experience in adolescent health issues. For more information on SAM, log onto www.adolescenthealth.org.

About sanofi-aventis

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).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group, provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccine in 2008, 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: http://www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us.

Contacts: NBA: Madeline Wehle Crandall (212) 407-8284 mcrandall@nba.com Vaccines for Teens: Iris Shaffer (708) 799-6284 ishaffer@cooneywaters.com

SOURCE Society for Adolescent Medicine
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