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Vaccines for high school and college freshmen

Laura Owens is a freelance writer who specializes in natural health, mood balancing, psychology, social trends and motherhood. She lives in Orlando, Florida. You can reach her at laao@cfl.rr.com or http://lauraowens.wordpress.com.

Vaccines for teens

Vaccines continue to perplex parents concerned about protecting their children against serious diseases yet who want to avoid potential adverse reactions and immunological side effects. Here is some vaccine information for parents to ensure their teens are up to date on their vaccines before they head back to school.

Alternatives to the CDC approach

Parents interested in seeking alternatives to the CDC's vaccine recommendations should speak with their child's pediatrician or consult with physicians open to alternative vaccination schedules. Parents should never make a decision because they feel pressured or bullied about certain vaccines. Some groups advocate avoiding most, if not all, vaccines, while others support vaccinations to prevent serious illnesses, but with a more conservative approach than the CDC's.

Dr. Cornelia Franz, author of Common Sense Pediatrics: Combining Traditional and Alternative Medicine in Everyday Practice, is the founder and owner of the Franz Center in Orlando, a practice that takes an integrative approach to health. Franz supports vaccinating children against serious diseases, yet advocates a more conservative protocol.

Franz's immunization schedule is arranged to cover the meningitis diseases first. She has found that the HIB and Prevnar vaccines have the fewest side effects and recommends the following immunization protocol for teens:

Screen carefully

The Franz Center screens a child's family history for diseases several generations back on both the mother and fathers' side to determine if the child might have risk factors that necessitate a more (or less) aggressive vaccination approach. A strong family history of autoimmune problems might make some individuals more susceptible to adverse reactions to vaccinations.

Limit per visit

The Franz Center administers no more than two shots at a time, but up to three or four vaccines depending on the combination vaccines available.

Tetanus

If a student receives a puncture or dirty wound, the Franz Center insists that both a tetanus vaccine and Tetanus Immune Globulin (TIG) be given within 72 hours of the injury. A single vaccine does not provide immunity.

Whooping cough/pertussis

Franz recommends the whooping cough or pertussis vaccine because the "P" in the DTaP is back on the rise. Whooping cough is 100 percent transmissible from an infected person to a non-immune person. The people spreading it are actually immunized adults.

Varivax against chickenpox

Franze advises this vaccination if a child has not had chicken pox by age 8. Serious complications from chicken pox are on the rise, such as flesh-eating strep A. Patients with eczema are at increased risk for complications. It is generally recommended that Varivax be given for patients with eczema.

No HPV (Gardisal)

Unlike the CDC, the Franz Center does not recommend this relatively new vaccine.

No flu shot

Many alternative or holistic practitioners do not recommend flu shots. Most believe it's safer and more effective to increase your body's resistance to illness by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, washing your hands and, if necessary, taking specific herbal or homeopathic remedies designed to decrease symptoms and speed recovery without side effects.

Regardless of which vaccination schedule parents choose (or refuse) before a child enters high school or college, parents and teens should not be bullied into a decision. Do your homework to become your child's health advocate. In addition, track and report to your child's doctor any strange behavior or side effects your teen experiences after receiving a vaccination.

More on vaccines:


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