Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Ohio to vaccinate up to 5,800 students against meningitis

By Carrie Spencer
The Associated Press

        CANTON — The Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday recommended vaccinating 5,800 students and staff from six high schools to protect them from a meningitis-related outbreak that has killed two students and left a third seriously ill.

        The two Beloit West Branch High School students died within a week in May and Christine Van Camp, 18, was hospitalized after attending a funeral for one of them.

        The test results are pending to determine whether Miss Van Camp, a senior at Marlington High School, has the same strain of the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis that led to the two deaths.

        Over the weekend, thousands of residents lined up at hospitals to receive antibiotics after word of the third case spread. Since then, residents had waited to learn whether they must return to be immunized.

        The antibiotic pills handed out over the weekend provide protection for only one to two days, while a vaccination shot lasts three to five years.

        It would be the first time the state has implemented such a large-scale meningitis immunization program, officials said. The state will pay for the shots, which cost $55 each.


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