Dana Southard, Nursing Administrator at the Pennyrile District Health Department, was in studio Thursday morning to talk to WPKY about recent changes to immunization legislature in Kentucky.

As of last summer, Kentucky legislation states that all children must have a Hepatitis A vaccine and all children 16 and older must have a booster shot for meningococcal meningitis before they will be admitted to school. If a child is not up to date by August they will not be allowed to attend school. Dana stated that the Hepatitis A vaccine is a two part vaccine that includes a six month wait between doses, so children must get vaccinated in the next few weeks in order to get that last dose in before school starts.

Dana mentioned that if you are unsure or can’t remember which vaccines your child has had you need to contact your health care provider or the provider that gave them their immunizations. They will be able to tell you what vaccines your child has received. She then told listeners that the booster shot for meningococcal meningitis is a new vaccine, so all children 16 to 18 will need to get the booster shot before August. Dana also mentioned that the meningococcal meningitis vaccine is administered when a child is 11 years old, and while immunity is retained until adulthood it does diminish over the years, which could lead to a child contracting the disease. Therefore, health providers have decided to give 16 year olds a booster shot to make sure they are covered before going to college after graduation. Meningococcal meningitis is a deadly bacterial infection that can kill within 24 hours and those at greatest risk are college aged students. So it’s imperative that 16 to 18 year olds get their booster shot.

Dana then implored listeners that if you’re concerned about vaccines, please seek out reliable websites, like the CDC, to do research rather than believing things shared on social media or by just googling vaccines. She also mentioned that vaccines have wiped out small pox and polio in the United

States and had almost wiped out measles, until the recent vaccine scare. Parents refusing to give their children the measles vaccine has brought the disease back to the forefront and has even caused a few localized outbreaks. Dana stressed that the measles disease can be deadly and is easily transferrable so it’s a public health issue when children aren’t vaccinated. She stated that a little pain and soreness at the injection site and a slight fever from a vaccine is better than complications from contracting the actual disease.

Dana then told listeners that the Caldwell County Health Clinic will have extended hours at some point in the next few weeks to allow ample time for parents to bring their children in for the required vaccines. They will release more information to the community when they have scheduled those extended hours. Currently the clinic is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8AM to 5PM and on Fridays from 8 to 11:30AM. For more information or to make an appointment you can call the clinic at 270-365-6571.

You can catch the full interview with Dana Southard below.