HOISINGTON — Vaccinations save thousands of lives in the U.S. alone by preventing the spread of disease. Without vaccinations, diseases that are nearly eradicated could return and potentially create an epidemic. As an effort to assist with the prevention of disease, providers and health-care professionals at Clara Barton Medical Clinic have been dedicated to keeping their patients up-to-date on the recommended vaccinations and working to ensure vaccines are easily accessible.
Over the past year, all three Clara Barton Medical Clinic locations in Hoisington, Great Bend and Russell have been working to better their vaccination programs. With funding assistance from the Clara Barton Foundation and a Vaccines for Children (VFC) grant, the clinics were able to purchase and install medical-grade pharmaceutical refrigerators and freezers, helping to ensure proper storage and controlled access to vaccines. Those needing vaccines are able to visit Clara Barton Medical Clinic and Russell Family Medical Care to receive any of the vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Purposes (ACIP). As of now, the Great Bend clinic only offers a few vaccines but measures are in place to open an expanded program by 2019.
Kansas Web IZ
Clara Barton Medical Clinics utilize a program called The Kansas Web IZ, which allows providers to track a patient’s vaccination history and ensure the patient is up-to-date on all vaccines, even if previous vaccines weren’t given at the clinic. The program is able to track all vaccines given throughout the state of Kansas, as long as the administering facility reports to WebIZ.
Children should begin receiving their scheduled vaccinations shortly after birth. It is recommended that a child then gets a variety of vaccines periodically until the age of 4. The next set required is the adolescent vaccines around age 11, with the last set being received around the age of 18.
“We generally provide a vaccine schedule for children during their well-child visit, which gives them information on what vaccines the child should receive and when,” said Kelci Burkey, P.A.-C. with Clara Barton Medical Clinic. “These vaccinations aid in laying the foundation for the child’s health.”
Vaccinating children is vital because, in some instances, children are unable to receive a vaccine because of a pre-existing illness. Because of that illness they are reliant upon “herd immunity,” meaning if everyone else they come in contact with is vaccinated, it will decrease the possibility of the child contracting a disease.
“Vaccines are extremely important because they greatly reduce the chance of contracting diseases that are very much preventable, such as measles, mumps, meningitis and rubella,” said Burkey. “Parents shouldn’t assume that just because other children are immunized that theirs will be fine. Children die from these preventable diseases every single year.”
All ages need vaccines
Clara Barton’s vaccine program provides vaccines for all ages, but has recently focused on the pre-teen and teenage groups. During these years children often experience a change in life pace as they begin to be involved in extracurricular activities. The change in pace often creates a much busier schedule, making it easier to miss the necessary vaccines.
“Although their schedules are full of activities, it is critical that pre-teens and teens stay up-to-date on their necessary vaccinations. These groups of kids are often exposed to many new people in a very close proximity,” said Burkey. “The Meningococcal vaccine is particularly important for teenagers to get before they move into dorms their first year of college and we recommend that pre-teens get the Gardasil vaccine before they are ever exposed to the virus. Vaccinating this age group has been shown to have the best outcomes and as a parent that’s what you want to give your children – the BEST outcomes.”
Those who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children are left vulnerable to serious diseases that can be easily avoided. Some diseases may start with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, sore throat and difficulty with breathing and swallowing, but could lead to very serious complications such as amputation or paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, and brain damage. Although these infectious diseases are preventable, they continue to result in hospitalization and even death for people of all ages and health statuses.
“Vaccines are important for the safety of our children,” said Clara Barton Lead Clinic Nurse Shayla Cook. “There are so many diseases that have been nearly eradicated because of vaccines, but now that some people are choosing not to vaccinate their children, some of the diseases that we haven’t seen for years are starting to resurface.”
Vaccines For Children
For years, Clara Barton Medical Clinic and Russell Family Medical Care have been active participants in the Vaccines for Children program. This program provides free vaccines for children from birth through age 18 who are insured under Medicaid/Kancare or are uninsured. The VFC program also offers vaccines to children who have commercial insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines.
Although the Great Bend location doesn’t currently offer a vaccine program, staff are working to make these services available. It is estimated that their VFC program will be up and running by the first of the year.
“We are so excited to be expanding our vaccination services in the Great Bend clinic,” said Cook. “We’re hopeful that the convenience of providing vaccines at well-child visits will increase vaccine compliance.”