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1997 was record year for inoculations

February 08, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

1997 was record year for inoculations

Though it's probably one of the most feared health procedures, more Washington County residents rolled up their sleeves in 1997 to get shots than before, according to records from Washington County Health System Inc.

Area physician practices owned and managed by the non-profit health care organization gave 9,682 inoculations last year to adults and children which is believed to be a record, said Sid Gale, director of physician practices.

Children made up more than half of those immunized last year, of which 1,000 were administered under a state Health Department program to immunize uninsured or underinsured children.

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Last year was the first time the health care organization kept a detailed record of immunizations, but Gale said it's believed last year's totals exceed other years because of an increase in patients.

The total does not include immunizations given by physicians in the county not owned by the organization.

"It took me by surprise that we were giving that many," Gale said.

Of the almost 10,000 shots given last year, 2,200 patients, or 23 percent, received flu shots, according to the records.

"We've identified flu as being a big problem in this area and we're concentrating on that," said Judy Russell, director of marketing at Antietam Health Services.

Some physicians are now suggesting that older patients and those at risk get two flu shots a year since one shot usually given in early fall can lose its effectiveness in a few months, Gale said.

Shots for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis were also common last year with 11 percent of the patients receiving the inoculations.

Newborns and children up to the age of 11 made up 9 percent who got shots for hepatitis B. Another 9 percent received pediatric flu vaccinations and 7.5 percent were immunized for measles, mumps and rubella.

Immunizations can play an important role in preventing disease for adults and children and a regular immunization schedule for newborns helps the child build up immunity over time, said Dr. William E. Royster, a physician at Robinwood Family Practice.

More education and awareness and better patient follow-up procedures at physicians offices account for the increase in immunizations, Gale said.

"We work very hard to make sure our patients get the preventive health care that they need," he said.

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