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The Daily



12-04-03: Newest vaccine will cost many Mercer County parents $280


New parents in Mercer County looking to provide their infant with all the current vaccinations will have to shellout hundreds of dollars for the newest pneumonia vaccine or wait until the state gives a subsidy.
Some counties in Ohio and Indiana are apparently handing-out the vaccine to whomever asks. In Mercer County, health department officials are following the state’s rules and only providing it to underinsured individuals.
The vaccine is designed to prevent strains of streptococcus pneumoniae, (S. pneumoniae) a bacterium that causes meningitis, ear, sinus and bloodstream infections. Deadly forms of S. pneumoniae can become resistant to the top four antibiotics, one being penicillin.
Mercer County/Celina City Health Board members have been discussing this issue for the last two months. The high cost of the vaccine and the chance of it expiring on the shelves has kept the department from buying extra doses.
“It is ironic,” Mercer County Health Commissioner Dr. Philip Masser told board members Wednesday. “Please understand we’re under close scrutiny from the state on how we use that vaccine.”
Many on the list of common vaccines are provided free to the public, like those for measles, mumps and polio. Masser said he’s had direct contact with the state, and Mercer County’s small stock of the S. pneumoniae vaccine is to only be distributed free to the underinsured.
Parents who want the new vaccine can always pay a private doctor the approximate $280 cost per child.
“The track record of the state has been to say ‘we’re going to try this on a segment of the population and see how it works,’ ” Masser said.
“There is a need for this, it does prevent major disease in kids,” Masser said. “I don’t think we have it within our budget to go out and buy it.’
After discussion, Masser suggested the department buy extra doses of the vaccine to be available for purchase, and he will continue to “turn the screw at the state.”
In a separate matter of business, health board members decided to give the seven department employees a 2.3 percent cost-of-living raise, following the lead of the Mercer County Commissioners.
Also, the board decided after an executive session to give Director of Environmental Health Michelle Kimmel a $1.50 per-hour raise and Sanitarian Chris Miller is to receive a $1 per hour, in addition to the percentage increase.


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