Health departments encourage infant immunizations before the age of two

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

"Love them. Protect them. Immunize them."

The Ohio Department of Health and area health departments want to drive this message home to parents during National Infant Immunization Week that begins Monday.

This annual observance emphasizes immunization against 11 vaccine-preventable diseases before children reach the age of two.

Email newsletter signup

"There is a real push to get 90 percent of the infants under the age of two immunized," said Mary Jon Holtzapfel, immunization nurse at the Lawrence County Health Department. "It used to be that the Center for Disease Control just encouraged it by the time they go to school."

Statistics from the Ohio Department of Health list Ohio currently at 71 percent.

Lawrence County is at about 25 percent, but these figures are probably inaccurate because all the children are born out of state, so it is difficult to track them.

Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenzae, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox and pneumonia. Many of these require multiple doses.

"It is very easy for people to put aside having their children immunized because they feel it is uncomfortable for the children," she said. "But these diseases are far more catastrophic than any pain the immunizations may cause."

Immunizations are available by appointment at the city health department. The county health department accepts walk-ins from 9 a.m. to noon

and 1 to 3 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month and from 1 to 3 p.m. the first Wednesday.

Appointments can also be made at the Early Childhood Center in South Point and most family physician or pediatricians, she said.

"We are not asking people to just come here," she said. "Go anywhere you want to go,

just get it done."

The state-wide Vaccines For Children program provides vaccines to family physicians and clinics to be distributed at a low cost.

"We have done four education

presentations so far and hope to get to all the immunization providers," Holtzapfel said.

Charlie Koontz, administrator for the Ironton Health Department, said all 143 health departments in the state participate. Although the services are offered year round, there is a big push during the week.

Any child can receive vaccinations at the health departments, regardless of economic qualifications. Both departments charge a $5 per shot administration fee.