A professor of pediatrics has voiced his opinion on the need of teenage vaccinations. Though at present young children are at the centre of such programs, it is becoming increasingly important for adolescents to be given such shots, the professor notes.
Agreeing that the topic was controversial- more for the teenagers, given their rebellious streak, Professor Adam Finn of the University of Bristol, says that a consensus on the matter would have to be reached after nation -wide debates and discussions involving the teenagers themselves, among other relevant authorities.
AdvertisementCurrently, teenagers are offered only a booster jab to the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine that they receive in childhood. Yet, a decision on whether female teenagers aged 11 and 12 should be immunized against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, is due.
Research is also taking place into the development of a vaccine against genital herpes.
This decision to consider teenage vaccinations is supported by rising cases of drug abuse involving the sharing of needles, and pre-marital sex among teens.
In the U.S there are optional shots against HPV, advised for those who are sexually active and at risk from sexually transmitted diseases.
Says Finn: 'Not all adolescents will be offered all the vaccines, but we need to be prepared.
"Up to now all our efforts at promoting the positive impact of vaccination have tended to focus on parents. "Now we have a completely different ball game with teenagers, notorious for being strong willed and not always deferring to their parents, having to make up their own minds about vaccination".
According to Dr. Claire Cameron, of the Health Protection Agency Scotland, parents will not be an obstacle to their teens taking vaccinations - if they were given the right information.
"If you provide the information, you get high rates of acceptability", she opines.
Teenagers could also be given vaccines that are available abroad against hepatitis B and multiple strains of meningitis.
A booster against whooping cough that is given to teenagers in France could be used in Britain to prevent young people from going on to infect their children when they became parents.
A vaccine against chickenpox is offered in the US as a method of preventing serious cases of the illness for those who have not suffered milder forms during childhood.