As children head for the school their
annual shots may not be so painful this time around.
This is due in large part to the growing
trend of combining vaccines and booster shots into one or two injections, says
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., chair and professor of pediatrics at Temple University's School of Medicine.
Currently, children who are starting
kindergarten (between ages 4-6) need a total of five shots: vaccines for diphtheria,
tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), chicken
pox, and hepatitis A. Children who are in day care need these plus an
additional vaccine against Haemophilus influenza b (Hib).
"No one likes getting shots, but for young
children especially, that's a lot of needles," Aronoff said.
In addition, before starting junior high or
middle school (around age 11), children need to receive booster shots of all of
these, and it is recommended they also have the vaccine for bacterial
Aronoff says that the recent federal
approval of Pentacel and Kinrix, two new combination vaccines that immunize
infants and children against multiple diseases, will make it easier to fulfill
school requirements with less stress to the patient.
Pentacel is a five-in-one vaccine meant to
protect infants and children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping
cough), polio and Hib. Kinrix is a four-in-one booster vaccine that is given to
protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio.
While these vaccinations can be combined,
Aronoff notes that there are still other vaccinations that children will need
to get separately:
- Flu vaccine - every year
- Chicken pox - unless they have already contracted it or have
gotten the required two doses
- TDaP - if it has been more than five years since the last
He adds that at age 12, girls should get
the Gardasil vaccine, which prevents the four major types of the human
papilloma virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
"Previously, you couldn't just mix vaccines
together into one syringe; the volume would be much too big and many of the
ingredients would counteract each other," said Aronoff.
"But now we're definitely going to see more
about how vaccinations and booster shots can be combined. It's more convenient
and much easier for a child to sit still for one shot as opposed to four or