Walworth County Health Department adding summer vaccination clinics
Where: Walworth County Health and Human Services Center, W4051 County NN, Elkhorn.
Appointments available: 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays.
Monthly walk-in clinics: 3 to 6 p.m. on the first Thursday and second Tuesday; 9 to 11 a.m. on the third Tuesday; and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday.
For more information: Call (262) 741-3140.
ELKHORN Longtime Walworth County Health Officer Pat Grove bristles when parents tell her they distrust the safety of childhood vaccinations.
Grove’s annoyance turns to alarm when parents sign waivers to exempt their children from getting disease-preventing shots.
The spread of whooping cough, a life-threatening ailment among newborns, is not kept in check when non-inoculated youngsters circulate in society, Walworth County health officials said.
The Walworth County Health Department is working double time the summer to get children and adults inoculated before to the start of new school year. A rush of kids in need of vaccinations happens at the start of every fall semester, Grove said.
Annually, the county administers 4,000 shots to children and adults, especially those who cannot afford preemptive medical care, Grove said.
Children entering kindergarten, sixth and 12th grades are required to receive certain vaccinations. Children in other grades who transferred to Wisconsin schools or are behind in immunizations also might need vaccinations before the new school year begins.
Parents can legally opt their children out of being vaccinated by signing waivers, a practice that’s discouraged by Grove and health specialists.
The county has expanded its vaccination program for county residents to include clinics when inoculations are administered by appointment. Walk-in vaccination clinics will continue, too.
About 40 percent of the shots are given to immigrant Hispanic children and adults, Grove said.
By getting vaccinations done this summer, health officials are hoping to prevent the regular rush of kids during September and October as parents try to bring their children into compliance with vaccination requirements.
Adriana Cano, who is bilingual, helps Hispanics get the needed vaccinations and updates state immunization registries with their vaccination information from county clinics. To acquire legal residency, immigrants must be current on required vaccinations, and many need updates for tetanus and hepatitis B, Grove said.
County health officials hope expanding the availability of inoculations will knock down the growing frequency of pertusis, also known as whooping cough.
“An outbreak of whooping cough happened in California, and Wisconsin was one of the top states in the nation to still have cases of whooping cough,” Grove said.
Ten California babies died from whooping cough last year, according to its department of health. Several outbreaks have been reported in Wisconsin, including La Crosse and Wauwatosa, according to Internet reports from local health officials.
The outbreak was blamed on parents who several years earlier didn’t have their children vaccinated, Grove said.
Whooping cough was nearly eliminated in the U.S. but has resurfaced because of parents skipping vaccinations for fear they are unsafe. Some infants have violent reactions—such as cramps and fever—to the whooping cough vaccine.
Beth Walsh, a county nurse and immunization coordinator, said the newer pertusis vaccines are easier for infants to assimilate and do not cause the bad reactions of the past.
“It seems like more and more parents are signing waivers because of the bad publicity of pertusis shots,” Walsh said. “That’s not the case.”
It only takes a few unimmunized kids in a classroom to infect each other and possibly spread whooping cough to unimmunized or under-immunized infants or to those with weak immune systems, she said.
Adults and children with pertusis will be miserable with a cough that can last months, Walsh said. The disease can kill infants, she said.
Walsh recommends adults get booster shots for pertusis.
Tetanus and pertusis vaccines are blended into a single inoculation, she said, and immunizations can be updated at any age.