State officials: Minn. teen immunizations up, but not enoughby Nancy Lebens, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — State health officials say more teens are getting immunizations, but still too many are going unprotected.
New survey results show that more teen girls are getting vaccines that can protect them against cervical cancer, but still only about one-third of girls do so.
The vaccine against the sexually transmitted disease HPV is given in three doses, said Kris Ehresmann, the Minnesota Department of Health's infectious disease director.
"But it's a very important vaccine, one of the two vaccines that can actually prevent a cancer," she said. "We do want to encourage parents to have their children receive that vaccine as well."
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 38 percent of girls received all three doses of the HPV vaccine in 2010, up from 27 percent in 2009.
Officials also said not enough teens are getting immunized to stop the spread of whooping cough. Ehresmann said they've seen hundreds of cases of whooping cough over the last several years despite vaccinations against it.
The older vaccine's effectiveness wanes as children age. Ehresmann said it's important teens get the newer whooping cough vaccine called t-dap to help protect even younger children.
"We really want to make sure that they take advantage of this new t-dap vaccine that will provide them with protection against pertussis," she said. "Because not only will it protect them, it will protect the younger kids that they come in contact with."
Seventy percent of teens were immunized against whooping cough in 2010, as opposed to 52 percent in 2009, according to the CDC.
Nancy Lebens is an editor for MPR News.