Adolescents Need Immunization: Child and Adolescent Week Message
Different names are assigned to age groups, but no matter what nomenclature is imposed, be it infant, child, pre-teens, post-teens or plain adolescent or young adult, children will always remain children. However for some strange reason immunization or vaccination alone has been reserved for children up to the age of 10 to 12 years only. Hence to emphasise the urgency of the matter, the Department of Paediatrics at Sri Ramachandra University, Porur in Chennai, conducted the Child and Adolescent Week, from 7th to 14 November 2011. The theme for the year 2011 is 'Adolescent Immunization- Need of the Nation'.
Promoting the message
The week long programme focuses on health propaganda by meeting up with educational institutions, distributing slogans as educational material and providing immunization services up to the age of 18 years. The efforts had been well received since 50 teams, each team with three participants, registered for the health quiz. Dr. Sumanth C Raman was the quiz master of the event. Students were also encouraged with cash prizes and certificates. While the quiz was for 11th and 12th standard students, a simultaneously drawing competition for children from 1st standard onwards also took place.
Need for Immunization
Adolescent Immunization comprises of vaccination against Chicken pox, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and so on. Parents accompany children during immunization programme only till the age of 10 years, and then the immunization care comes to a complete stop, which is one of the reasons for the Indian Academy of Paediatrics decision to increase the age limit from 12 years to 18 years. So if a child should be affected by chicken pox during his or her exams, a lot is at stake for the child. Such contingency can be avoided if the child is immunized.
Adolescent issues sorted out
One of the adolescent issues dealt is between boys and girls. However the treatment at the department is for physical ailments such as delayed pubertal growth. Generally, adolescents require only a regular check-up and some adolescents with common problems visit the centres. However there are adolescents with chronic illnesses who have been patients since their early childhood where the illness modifies their adolescence. For example a child with a heart problem will realise the difference between other students and oneself.
Teenagers need psychological counselling. Adolescents are cared for, through school programmes and regular health check-ups and immunization. Common problems are treated at OPD (Out Patient Department) where the children are advised on personal hygiene and immunization. Chronic illness patients get more attention because, either illness modifies the adolescence or the treatment modifies the adolescence such as affecting their growth, puberty, psychological changes, growth related changes, mental makeup, so when children come to realisation they go through frustration. More than the disease the common cause of death is suicide, violence and road traffic accident, all of which are preventable. Even the chronic illness does not kill the child but the depression caused by the illness, hence counselling services are vital.
On a regular day, the paediatric department cares for out-patients and in-patients catering to children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years. The Adolescent Clinic was started in the year 1999 when the Indian Academy of Paediatrics decided to increase the age limit of their patients from 12 years upto 18 years. Since then Adolescent Services, organ of the paediatric department has been actively treating both out-patients and in-patients. The adolescent services are supported by a multi-disciplinary approach involving department of clinical psychology, psychiatry, gynaecology, endocrinology and developmental unit. The department also has School Health Service where schools are approached to look after the adolescent students. Immunisation services are provided six days a week. Adolescent counselling services are also integral to the overall programme designed by the department.
The programme was sponsored by Sri Ramachandra University under the leadership of the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and Dean of Faculties and Dean of Medical Colleges. Dr. L.N. Padmasani, HOD of the Department of Paediatrics, SRMC and Dr. Latha Ravichandar were actively participating and explaining the need for child and adolescent health and well being to an enthusiastic crowd of children and adolescents