NBA stars lend hand to Vaccines for Teens program

Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion and Bob Lanier, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, have teamed up to bring the NBA and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine-sponsored program Vaccines for Teens to the Dallas community.

Vaccines for Teens acts as a national campaign to educate teens and parents about the importance of vaccinations against potentially life-threatening diseases.

Marion and Lanier tipped off the campaign by appearing at Sam Tasby Middle School to urge parents to discuss adolescent vaccinations with their family doctors. Some of the illnesses teens are at risk for include meningococcal disease, pertussis and influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that preteens and teens receive vaccinations for those three illnesses.

“Vaccination can help teens grow into healthy adults and should be encouraged for the students at Sam Tasby Middle School and for teens throughout the Dallas area,” Marion said. “In basketball, the best offense is a good defense, and the same holds true for protecting teen health.”

Immunization rates for for meningococcal disease and pertussis in teens between the ages of 13 and 17 are at 50 percent in the state of Texas. Immunization rates against the flu in the city of Dallas fall short each year, despite 61,647 to 246,588 influenza cases per year.

"With teens in such close contact in classrooms and on school sports teams, these infectious diseases can spread easily from student to student," Carlos Oliveira of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and a pediatric resident at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, said. "Vaccination is a safe and effective way to help teens stay protected, yet immunization rates remain low in this population."

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine is an organization of health professionals committed to advancing the well-being of adolescents. NBA Cares is the National Basketball Association’s social responsibility initiative.