Chivas USA joins Dr. Aliza to urge Hispanics to vaccinate adolescents
LOS ANGELES (January 13, 2011) – 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 targeting Hispanics in Los Angeles that was 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 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."
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 next year, that all students entering or advancing into 7th - 12th grades must receive the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster shot before starting school to help protect teens from this serious infection.
Despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that preteens and teens get vaccinated against meningitis and pertussis, only around half of Latino preteens and teens receive their vaccinations, putting them and their communities at increased 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.