Health District back to full vaccination status – Chillicothe Gazette

CHILLICOTHE – Ever since the shakeup at the Ross County Health District following last November’s levy failure and subsequent spring levy passage, district officials have become used to calls expressing confusion over what is still available from the organization.

“A lot of them call and ask if they can get a copy of their record because they are going to take their child somewhere else, not knowing that we’re still open for business,” said Michelle Long, assistant director of public health nursing and infectious disease case manager for the health district. 

Hearing that mistaken perception being voiced has raised concerns at the district as it prepares to enter two of its busiest vaccination seasons — those for back-to-school and prevention of the flu. Long said the organization has been able to return to a full vaccine stock and is making plans for administering doses through its Nurse of the Day walk-in clinic operating from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, for working with individual school districts on the best way to get doses administered to school children and, on the flu side, for the annual outreach into the townships and out of the clinic at the district’s East Second Street offices.

Being prepared is one thing, Long said. Getting people to understand the vaccination services are still up and running is something totally different.

“Right now is the time for parents to come,” Long said. “After fair, there certainly (will be) a wait, even though we are a walk-in clinic with no appointment necessary. Right now, while we’re kind of in a lull, is the time to come because there’s really no wait times right now.”

The waiting room that at one time had a steady stream of clients coming in for vaccinations is now sitting empty much of the time. While July is traditionally a very slow time for administering the shots — families are on vacation, 4-H youth are preparing for fair week and summer outdoor recreation is at its peak — the Health District is hoping to see a return of a busy vaccination schedule once fair week is over and school gets ready to resume.

There are several immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten in the fall, including having on their medical records the equivalent of five DTaP or DT shots, four doses of polio vaccine, two doses of mumps, measles and rubella vaccine, three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine and two doses of Varicella vaccine. For current school children, one dose of Tdap vaccine must be administered prior to the seventh grade, as must one dose of meningococcal vaccine. Two additional doses of meningococcal vaccine must be administered prior to entry into the 12th grade.

Another mistaken perception that exists, Long added, involves eligibility to receive vaccinations from the health district.

“Anybody in the community can get vaccinations here,” she said. “All children can get them here, of course, because we carry vaccines for children, which is for the Medicaid population, uninsured, underinsured and then we also accept a majority of private insurances. Any adult can come here. We have cash pay vaccines, plus we accept most insurances. 

“I think it’s always been a stigma (affecting) the health department that the health department is only for the Medicaid population or the uninsured or underinsured, and in the recent years we started carrying the private (pay) vaccines.”

In an effort to get the word out that vaccination services have basically returned to where they were before some of the revamping tied to the levies, the district has taken to social media outlets as a reminder.

District officials will begin meeting with school nurses over the coming weeks to hash out the best way to provide immunizations within individual districts to students who need them as school gets closer to starting, and it is working out plans to take flu vaccines out to individual townships during a blitz in the early fall.

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