June has been designated by the Centers for Disease Control as National Teen Immunization Month. Now is the time for parents and guardians to check immunization records and determine if their children are up to date on their shots before returning to school at the end of August.
For teens, it is especially important that their immunizations are up to date. Teenagers are at high risk for contracting certain diseases, including meningitis and pertussis. These diseases can lead to death, serious illness, or life-threatening health complications. Given how contagious these diseases can be, one infected student in a school or summer camp setting could put an entire student population in danger.
Vaccinations are available for each of these dangerous diseases. However, few adolescents in Ohio are getting their recommended immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adolescents receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), MCV4 (meningococcal disease) and HPC (human papillomavirus) vaccines. In fact, Ohio children are required to have the Tdap immunization prior to 7th grade entry.
If your child has not received these vaccinations, he or she is at risk of catching one of these diseases. Not only do the recommended vaccines protect teens from disease, they also prevent the spread of serious diseases to others, such as babies too young to be fully vaccinated and older people with poor immune systems. It is imperative that more Ohio adolescents receive their vaccinations to protect themselves, family members and friends from serious illness.
All of these immunizations are available at the Washington County Health Department. Immunization clinics are held each Wednesday from 1 to 6 p.m. and each Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are necessary. Cost is $10, but no child is turned away for inability to pay.
In addition to updating immunizations, the Washington County Health Department will once again be offering sports physicals for children. The health department has offered this low cost service for several years and has been able to give exams to a number of children in Washington County. Because of the popularity of this clinic, we recommend that parents call the health department as soon as they can to set up the appointment for their child. The date of the clinic is Wednesday, June 27. Appointments are necessary for these physicals and can be made by calling 740-374-2782. Cost of the physical is $15 and patients are asked to bring forms for physicals and a copy of their shot record with them if possible.
On the topic of immunizations, the health department also wants to stress the importance of pet vaccinations for rabies. Each year, WCHD has provided several clinics for pet owners to bring their dogs and cats for rabies vaccinations. This year, our first clinic was held at the health department on Saturday, June 1. We are thankful to Dr. Lori Lutz for serving as our veterinarian at this first clinic of the year. Sixty-one animals were vaccinated at this clinic. There is another opportunity for vaccination of dogs and cats on Saturday, August 18 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Barlow Fairgrounds Shelter. Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in carriers. All animals should be a minimum of 12 weeks of age to receive this vaccine. Cost is $7 per animal. If your animal does not do well around other dogs or cats, the health department recommends that it is brought to the clinic about 30 minutes after we start. The influx of animals usually is at the beginning of the clinic and quickly thins out after the first half hour. Although we have not had an animal that tested positive for rabies in the last few years, the baiting for the raccoon strain of rabies still continues in the eastern part of the county and WCHD recommends that dogs and cats in the entire county be vaccinated.
For more information on any of these programs, or to contact the Washington County Health Department, call 740-374-2782.
Kathleen Meckstroth is Washington County health commissioner and executive director of the Washington County Health Department, 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta.