Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2001

Routine pin pricks nothing to fear

June 14, 2001

Not even the freedom of summer immunizes children against the periodical pin prick of an inoculation. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department was on hand Friday to administer childhood immunization shots.

Serena Allen brought in her 6-month-old daughter Jenna for four shots. Several small, round Band-Aids that peeked out from under the child's sundress alluded to her morning activities.

"She wasn't a very happy baby today," Allen said.

The health department program, which comes to Eudora City Hall monthly, was more convenient and cost-efficient for Allen, who normally drives to Lawrence for visits to her pediatrician.

"Our insurance went down to (paying) 50 percent," Allen said. "It was a lot cheaper to come here and pay $28. But I'd prefer to go to my physician, because they do the measurements."

Because of summer vacation, June is usually a slow month, said nurse Elaine Houston and clerk Joyce McMackin. The two have been administering immunizations together in Eudora for 20 years. The duo relaxed and sipped on Sonic drinks during the slow time, musing about the busy shot seasons to come.

July, August and September pick up because kids need their shots before going back to school. October heralds in flue shot season.

"We want to serve the whole county," Houston said. "And it's for people who don't have transportation. I've seen people walk here."

The temporary clinic offers tetanus and Hepatitis B shots for adults. Even though vacation season is here, travelers will need to look elsewhere for vaccinations, as many of the shots require refrigeration.

In the last coupl of years, a pneumococal shot that fights meningitis and pneumonia has been added to the lineup of children's vaccinations.

"Every year they come up with more," McMackin said. "The poor babies get poked a lot."

The shot against measles, mumps and rubella, the MMR shot, has gotten a bad rap recently. Some parents claim the vaccine caused their children's autism and look toward research for further explanation. They say their children's demeanor changed after the vaccination.

Houston said she thought such claims had little merit.

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence that this happens and little circumstantial evidence," Houston said.

McMackin added, "And we give out a whole lot of them."

Children generally show signs of autism at about 1 year of age, when then MMR shot is given, McMackin said.

Information found about the MMR-autism link, as well as other medical information on the Internet isn't always trustworthy, Houston said.

"Ninety percent of it's bad," she said. "It's bad and it's dangerous."

Web surfers shouldn't trust organizations just because they have an official-sounding name, she said.

Although Allen was aware of the controversy over the MMR shot that Jenna will need in six months, she said she wasn't worried.

"At first I was, but after you get to reading into it, your paranoia goes down," Allen said.

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