By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County hopes to improve immunization rates
Placeholder Image

 Recently, the Barton County Health Department hosted an immunization carnival in an effort to bolster sagging immunization rates, but the low numbers remain a problem, especially among the teenaged population, Health Director Shelly Schneider told the County Commission Monday morning.

Even though they had a good time, “our turnout was not as great as we would have wished,” she said of the July event. But, “we are continually looking for new and innovative ways to boost our immunization rates.”

Of particular concern are teenagers, Schneider said. Statewide, only 13 percent of teens are current on their vaccines. The Barton County fairs better at 20 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations from birth through adulthood to provide a lifetime of protection against many diseases and infections, such as influenza, pneumococcal disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), and hepatitis A and B. 

With teenagers, the controversy centers around the HPV vaccine, which often evokes teen behaviors and sexual activity. But, like it or not, they are at risk, Schneider said.

“We can’t stick our heads in the sand,” she said. “It has to be talked about.”

With the HPV shot, there have been incidents of the youth fainting, but Schneider said they take precautions. “There really are no side effects. All the vaccines are very safe.”

She also urged parents to make sure the rest of their teenaged children’s shots are current. Many get the first series, but fail to get the requisite second and third.

It is easy, she said, to check on immunization records, either through the health department or through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s WebIZ website.

Immunizations are routinely administered to those through age 18 on a walk-in basis during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

For more information, call the department at 620-793-1902.