Health department promotes awareness of vaccines

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Health Department will hold two clinics at Brooke High School to promote awareness of two booster immunizations required for students entering seventh and 12th grades.

Since last year state health and school officials have required that seventh graders receive a booster dose of the DTaP vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis and a dose of MCV4 meningitis vaccine.

Incoming seniors must show proof of a single dose of Tdap and a booster dose of MCV4 if the first dose was given before the child’s 16th birthday.

The health department will provide the immunizations from 9 a.m. to noon Ssaturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 at the high school. Parents and guardians planning to bring their children should make appointments, to ensure they bring the proper documentation, by calling (304) 737-3665.

The clinics are aimed at youth who are uninsured but the vaccines will be available to those with insurance but not able to obtain them through their doctors, for a fee.

Those with family doctors should contact them to determine if their children’s shots are up-to-date and meet the requirements for school enrollment.

The two immunizations and many others required by schools are available at the health department each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to and 11:30 a.m. and appointments may be made by calling the above number.

For many years, state law has required children to receive five doses of a vaccination against diptheria, pertussis and tetanus before they enroll in school and students to be vaccinated against meningitis before entering seventh grade.

But Brooke County Health Department Administrator Karen McClain said the vaccines weaken as the children get older, so boosters are needed. High school seniors have been targeted because many will be going on to college settings, where their exposure to more people can leave them more prone to contracting the disease, she said.

She said the additional pertusis vaccinations had been recommended for a few years before they were required and the Brooke County department was among West Virginia health departments that provided them in 2010 to encourage their use.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, meningitis is caused by a bacterial infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord and can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and death.

According to the CDC, pertusis is caused by a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system and usually is spread when people cough or sneeze into the air, causing the bacteria to be propelled and inhaled by others.

It causes lengthy coughing spells that make it difficult for infants to eat, drink and breathe and can lead to pneumonia, seizures such as jerking and staring spells, brain damage, and death, according to the CDC.

The clinics are being funded by the Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccines for children who are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured or lack insurance that covers certain vaccines.

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