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Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Children at risk without second H1N1 dose

Mercer County

By Shelley Grieshop
About half the local children who've received their first dose of H1N1 vaccine are at risk for the illness because they failed to receive their second round.
Joyce Jansen, director of nursing and infectious disease control at the Mercer County-Celina City Health Department, said children younger than 10 need two doses to fully protect them from the virus. The vaccine is most effective if the doses are given approximately one month apart.
"They'll get some coverage (with one dose), but young kids haven't yet built up the antibodies they need," Jansen said.
The lack of adequate antibodies in youngsters is the reason many childhood vaccinations are given in a series, she explained. Adults, who typically have the necessary antibodies, only need one dose of the H1N1 vaccine for protection, she said.
Health officials believe the public lost interest in the illness after the media attention dwindled the last few months.
About 50 percent of children who received their first dose in Mercer County have failed to return for their second, Jansen added. Auglaize County Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons said about 40 percent of children in that county are overdue for their second dose. However, she's a bit skeptical about the numbers.
"(The data system) doesn't track those children who receive their second dose from another provider or in another county," Parsons said. "Judging from the number of second doses we have provided to children who had their first dose elsewhere, the percentage is probably not accurate."
Auglaize County confirmed their first H1N1 death on Jan. 29. A 59-year-old Wapakoneta woman died at Lima Memorial Hospital after contracting the illness.
Although officials in both counties say they're concerned, their statistics aren't as high as other regions in the state. The Ohio Department of Health recently noted that statewide approximately 80 percent of children under the age of 10 have not returned for their final dose.
Jansen and Parsons are urging parents and guardians to have their children adequately vaccinated against the virus. Although they believe the H1N1 flu has slowed its spread locally, it's still out there and is being diagnosed more frequently than the seasonal flu, the women said.
Both counties continue to offer the shots at the health departments, as well as clinic sites throughout the counties.
For clinic times, contact the Mercer County health department at 419-586-3251 or access its Web site at www.mccchd.org, or the Auglaize County health department at 419-738-3410 and www.auglaizehealth.org.
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