CDC Updates Vaccine Recommendations

New guidelines for the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B vaccines impact young boys and elderly patients with diabetes.

New guidelines for the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B vaccines impact young boys and elderly patients with diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently released a new immunization schedule that included key recommendations and afew major changes of which pharmacists should be aware.

The CDC now recommends that boys receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The agency changed their recommendation in regard to boys and the HPV vaccine after reviewing 2 years of data that indicated that the vaccine is “very effective” in preventing a few cancer types and genital warts in men and women. The new guidelines state that boys aged 11 to 12 years should receive the initial dose, whereas boys aged 13 to 21 years should receive the catch-up vaccination.

The announcement follows a recently released study that found that 1 in 15 Americans have contracted oral HPV, which has been linked to a number of oropharyngeal cancers. Although HPV affects the genital area, the virus can be transferred to the mouth. Men are 3 times more likely than women to be infected with oral HPV.

Up to this point, the vaccination rates for HPV have already been lagging behind those of other childhood immunizations, and it is possible that these new recommendations may be uncomfortable for some parents and caregivers. As experts on immunization, pharmacists can counsel patients on the benefits of vaccination and provide families with the facts about HPV to help them make the best decisions for their child’s health.

In addition to the change in the HPV vaccine guidelines, the CDC also recommends that patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes younger than 60 years be vaccinated against hepatitis B as soon as possible after they receive their diabetes diagnosis. Health care providers treating patients with diabetes older than 60 years should consider a few factors before vaccinating: how the patient’s immune system will respond to the virus, how likely it is that the individual will acquire hepatitis B, and the patient’s requirement for blood glucose monitoring.

The hepatitis B vaccine has been recommended for years for health care workers, injection drug users, and others who are at risk for “blood exposure.” Patients with diabetes are twice as likely as others to get hepatitis B. The CDC has also documented outbreaks at nursing homes where residents share instruments that test blood sugar levels.

The CDC co-released a report that states in clear terms that most adults are not getting the routinely recommended shots. As the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists can discuss these new immunization guidelines with patients and keep a copy of the CDC vaccine schedule at their pharmacy.

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