DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – October 22, 2017 – Today, the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) convened public health leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa for a two-day interactive workshop to share experiences and strategies in strengthening adolescent health and immunization.

Adolescence brings a new set of heath care concerns. Motor vehicle accidents, mental illness, substance misuse, smoking and sexually transmitted infections are among the behavioral health issues that preteens and teens may face as they move through adolescence. It is crucial to establish best practices that effectively address these challenges and protect adolescent health.

Immunization plays a critical role in keeping preteens and teens healthy and protected from diseases throughout their lives, including influenza, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, meningococcal disease, and cancers caused by human papillomavirus. There is a need to increase awareness of immunizations for adolescents.

During the two-day workshop, participants will discuss country experiences with adolescent immunization to improve vaccine access and address the challenge of vaccine hesitancy. These topics will be considered in the context of challenges and opportunities in adolescent health, and the role of schools and civil society organizations. By bringing together health leaders from many sectors with immunization experts from 12 countries across the region, the workshop aims to help participants identify tangible next steps to achieve the promise of adolescent immunization.

“Given advances in research and development, the benefit of immunizations are now available across the lifespan – not only for infants and children,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “This provides a setting for a deep discussion about how to ensure that the full promise of vaccines are available to adolescents.”

“This meeting of decision makers from [the Eastern Mediterranean] region will focus on adolescent health with special reference to vaccine preventable diseases, including include cervical cancer for which there is HPV vaccine and meningitis for which there is meningococcal vaccine,” said Najwa Khuri-Bulos, professor emeritus and founding director of Infectious Disease and Vaccine Center and Department of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases at the University of Jordan. “We will also discuss the delivery of theses vaccines through school health and other health delivery platforms.”

Visits to a healthcare provider during adolescence -- whether it is a pediatrician, school nurse, or general practitioner – also offer a valuable opportunity for providers to ensure that adolescents are up-to-date on all childhood immunizations. If countries lack a routine immunization supported by a strong adolescent health platform, preteens and teens are left at greater risk of preventable disease, injury or even death.

The workshop is the first in a series of three regional adolescent health workshops that Sabin will be hosting in the coming months. Sabin plans to publish lessons learned from the workshops so that those who cannot participate can also benefit from these important discussions and have the opportunity to implement proposed action items.

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About The Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit http://www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.

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