Saturday, August 12, 2000

It's time to roll up the sleeve

Agencies offer area youngsters immunizations at reduced cost

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Immunizations are a sure way to prevent childhood diseases and children are not allowed to enroll in school without them.

        To that end, local health departments are offering free or nearly free shots for children.

[photo] Brittany Perkins, 6, grimices as she receives an anti-hepatitis booster from nurse Sue Bradford of the Hamilton County General Health District.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Parents should begin immunizing their children at birth and follow a regular schedule of shots until children are 18, health officials say.

        The goal is to have 100 percent of Greater Cincinnati's 2-year-olds immunized each year. Rates in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky tend to be somewhat lower, running between 70 percent and 90 percent.

        “The bottom line is to make sure parents understand the importance of immunizing kids,” said Timothy Ingram, Hamilton County health commissioner. “They need to take the time to get it done.”

        Before children begin kindergarten they should be vaccinated for hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; and measles, mumps and rubella. Schools can refuse to admit a child without proof of the child's immunization record.

    • Butler County's health department offers immunization clinics 12:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at the Rosin Health Center, 202 S. Monument, Hamilton. 863-1770.
    • The Cincinnati health department offers several immunization sites. 352-2901.
    • Clermont County will offer two back-to-school immunization clinics. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday at the Live Oaks Career Development Center, 5956 Buckwheat Road, Milford, and 2-6 p.m. Aug. 22 at New Richmond Elementary, 1141 Bethel-New Richmond Road. 735-8989.
    • Dearborn County's health department will hold a clinic 9-11 a.m. Friday, 215 B West High St., and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 23 and Aug 24 at the same location. 537-8826.
    • The Hamilton City health department offers several different immunization clinics. 785-7087.
    • Hamilton County's health department offers 50 different locations. 326-4540.
    • Warren County's health department has a walk-in clinic every Tuesday 8:30-11:30 a.m. at its office in Lebanon, 416 S. East St. 925-1228.
    • The Northern Kentucky health department's county centers in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties are offering immunizations. Contact the health department in your county for times and locations: Boone, 525-1770; Kenton, 431-3345; Campbell, 431-1704; Grant, 824-5074.
    Kentucky schools and health departments are also promoting the Kentucky Children's Health and Insurance Program, or KCHIP.
    The program provides free health insurance for children in low-income families. For example, a family of four with an annual income of $34,100 can qualify for the free insurance.
    For more information, call (877) KCHIP-18.
        “If any parent isn't sure if their child's immunizations are up to date, they ought to check with their health care provider or their local health department,” said Dr. Susy Kramer, medical director for the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department.

        “Probably a more important reason (to get immunizations), is that children are the most vulnerable population to a lot of these infectious diseases,” Dr. Kramer said.

        Exceptions are made for children who might have allergic reactions or other dangerous side effects to any of the vaccines.

        Parents can have their children immunized against chickenpox, but it is not required.

        Susan Irvine, the city of Hamilton's public health nursing administrator, said the chickenpox vaccine can be valuable.

        “As there are less and less diseases around, people who are not immunized as adults can catch things like the chickenpox from children,” Ms. Irvine said.

        The varivax or chickenpox vaccine could become mandatory in Ohio.

        A bill that would require the new vaccine for all children entering kindergarten passed the state Senate and will be considered by the House this fall.

        Parents should bring their child's immunization records when they go to receive shots.

        Immunizations are not just for young children.

        Health departments also recommend that college students be vaccinated against hepatitis B and meningococcal disease (bacterial or spinal meningitis).

       Enquirer reporter Lori Hayes contributed.


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