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Spurs Legend George Gervin Joins New Vaccines for Teens Educational Campaign to Help San Antonio Teens Take Their Best Shot at Health

Saturday, October 31, 2009 General News J E 4
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Basketball Superstar Urges Local Teens to Stay in the Game and Get Vaccinated - It's More Important Than Ever

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 30 -- NBA Legend and Basketball Hall of Famer George Gervin teamed up with NBA Cares and the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) today to bring Vaccines for Teens to the San Antonio 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 in San Antonio, Gervin appeared at the George Gervin Academy to urge local parents of preteens and teens to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family physicians.  

Teens are at risk for influenza disease, both seasonal and the A (H1N1) influenza virus, as well for other serious infectious diseases such as meningococcal 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 San Antonio area from the potentially life-threatening complications of these diseases.

"Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults, and is beneficial for our students at the George Gervin Academy and for teens throughout the San Antonio area," said George Gervin.  "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 Bexar County

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

Adolescent immunization in Bexar County is a very important community health issue.  The A (H1N1) influenza virus is currently circulating in the area, and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District estimates that nearly a million local residents, including preteens and teens, should be vaccinated against the pandemic virus and seasonal influenza.  In addition, new immunization requirements issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services going into effect beginning this year require students entering seventh grade to have their meningococcal meningitis vaccine.  The requirements also indicate that these students also should receive one booster dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.  

"As meningococcal disease cases peak in December and January, and seasonal influenza cases peak in February, it is a crucial time for San Antonio parents to have their children vaccinated against these potentially deadly diseases, if they haven't already," said Manuel Angel Oscos-Sanchez, MD, Associate Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and President of the Texas Regional Chapter of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.  "With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student."

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

A (H1N1) Influenza

The 2009 A (H1N1) virus, sometimes called "swine flu," is a new influenza virus causing illness in people.  This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009.  This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.  On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that a pandemic of the 2009 A (H1N1) flu was underway.  The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that persons between 6 months and 24 years of age receive the H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available.

Seasonal Influenza

Seasonal 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. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months through 18 years of age receive an annual flu vaccination.

Meningococcal Disease / Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal disease, including meningococcal meningitis, is a very serious disease that strikes between 1,000 to 2,600 people each year in the U.S., and can progress very quickly.  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 and can be life-threatening when spread to infants. 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 program 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 $110 million to charity, provided more than one million hours of  hands-on service to communities around the world, and created more than 425 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 WNBA Cares

Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women's health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log onto www.wnba.com.

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.  We enhance 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 pre-teens, 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.  

SOURCE Society for Adolescent Medicine

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