Local Chivas Soccer Club Joins Dr. Aliza to Urge Hispanics to Vaccinate Adolescents Against Meningitis and Whooping Cough

January 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Mariano Trujillo, a defender for professional soccer team Chivas USA, joined nationally recognized health expert Dr. Aliza Lifshitz today to strongly urge all local Hispanic families to vaccinate adolescent children against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as meningococcal meningitis and whooping cough.

Trujillo and Dr. Aliza headlined a special event in Los Angeles as part of the Vacune a Sus Hijos Adolescentes (Get Your Teens Vaccinated) public awareness initiative. They spoke to more than 100 Latino preteens and teens about meningococcal meningitis and pertussis (whooping cough), and the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program that provides eligible children 18 years of age and younger with free or low-cost vaccines for these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.( )

“Like in soccer, Latino families need a team approach to make sure adolescents get vaccinated against meningitis and whooping cough,” said Trujillo. “Chivas USA joined Vacune a Sus Hijos Adolescentes to make sure all Latino parents and their teens in LA know they need to get these vaccines.”

Improving adolescent immunization is currently a critical public health issue in Los Angeles County. Cases of meningococcal meningitis peak in late winter and early spring. In addition, there has been a statewide epidemic of whooping cough for the past six months. The California Department of Public Health recently instituted a new requirement, going into effect this year, that all students entering or advancing into 7(th) – 12(th) grades must receive the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster shot before starting school to help protect teens from these serious infections.

Despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that preteens and teens get vaccinated against meningitis and pertussis, only about half of Latino preteens and teens receive their vaccinations, leaving many unvaccinated children in their communities at risk. In response, Eastmont Community Center in East LA recently launched Vacune a Sus Hijos Adolescentes, with support by Sanofi Pasteur, to help educate LA County’s Hispanic community about serious infectious diseases that can strike preteens and teens, and to encourage parents to contact their health-care provider or local public health department to learn if their children qualify for the VFC program.

“As the ongoing whooping cough epidemic shows, vaccine-preventable diseases can still present significant public health problems,” said Dr. Aliza. “Parents of students in or entering high school should have their children vaccinated against whooping cough now, to help keep them healthy and to prepare for the new school requirement. The good news for many families is that this and all other recommended adolescent vaccines are offered for free or at low cost through the VFC program.”

Vacune a Sus Hijos Adolescentes features a wide variety of educational activities to reach parents in Los Angeles, including radio, TV and newspaper interviews, bus shelter and billboard announcements, public service spots, involvement from civic and political leaders, and a special task force of Spanish-speaking women, called “Promotoras,” who are specifically trained to share important community messages through word-of-mouth communications.

Preteens and Teens at Increased Risk

Preteens and teens are at risk for potentially life-threatening diseases, such as meningitis and whooping cough.( )Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help protect teens against these serious diseases and can help prevent their spread to other populations.( )However, only about half of Latino teens 13 to 17 years of age have been immunized against meningitis and whooping cough.

VFC Offers Free or Low-Cost Vaccines

To help families who might not otherwise get their children vaccinated because of their inability to pay, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provides free or low-cost vaccines for children through 18 years of age.( ) Children who are eligible for Medicaid, children without health insurance, and children with private health insurance that does not include vaccines may all be eligible for the VFC program.

Parents are encouraged to contact their health-care provider or their local public health department to find out whether their children are eligible for the VFC vaccination program. To find the nearest VFC provider, parents can visit the California Department of Public Health/California Immunization Coalition’s VFC directory at vacunasymisalud.org (click on Programa de vacunas).

About Pertussis and Meningococcal Disease

Cases of pertussis, commonly called “whooping cough,” have been increasing among American teens. Whooping cough can cause a serious cough for weeks or even months. Fifty percent to 80 percent of unvaccinated children who are in school with someone who has whooping cough may potentially catch the disease. In addition, up to 90 percent of unvaccinated children living in a household with someone with whooping cough risk contracting the disease.

Although rare, meningococcal disease, which includes meningococcal meningitis, is a serious bacterial infection that can cause death within 24 to 48 hours of first symptoms.( )About 10 percent of the 1000 to 2600 Americans who get meningococcal disease each year will die. Death rates are up to 5 times higher among teenagers and young adults (15 through 24 years of age) compared with other age groups. Among those who survive, 1 in 5 is left with long-term disabilities including limb amputations, brain damage, and hearing loss. This infection can spread from person to person during common, everyday activities like being in close contact and sharing drinking glasses.

Public health officials recommend that preteens and teens receive a meningococcal vaccination and a tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine. These and other recommended vaccines are available through the VFC program.

About Eastmont Community Center

Eastmont Community Center was founded in 1967 in collaboration with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The center’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for children, youth, working adults and seniors in low-income families by providing needed education, social services, and health and wellness services that promote personal development and self-sufficiency. In addition to providing emergency services such as food and clothing, housing, and job search counseling, Eastmont also offers child development services, educational programs for youth, English-as-a Second-Language and Citizenship classes, adult literacy programs and senior services which include hot meals and low-impact exercise activity.

About C.D. Chivas USA

Founded in 2004, Los Angeles-based Club Deportivo Chivas USA has achieved remarkable success in six full seasons in Major League Soccer. From 2006-2009, the Mexican-owned club qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs four consecutive seasons, to the delight of its passionate supporters. In addition, Chivas USA’s innovative grassroots programs demonstrate its deep commitment to the Southern California community, while the club’s youth teams and Soccer Academies offer unprecedented opportunities to the region’s best young talent. For more information on Chivas USA, please call 1-877-CHIVAS-1 or visit cdchivasusa.com.


    Catherine Cuello
    Tel (646) 367-3365
    Cell (917) 545-7613

SOURCE Eastmont Community Center

Source: newswire

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