By Molly Jespersen
Showing no signs of waning, an increased number of pertussis cases during the summer of 2013 concerned Klamath County Public Health (KCPH) as children and youth returned to school. Understanding that immunization is the best way to protect children and families, both local school districts and KCPH elected to have an early exclusion cycle for all seventh graders and open four points of distribution (POD) to ensure availability of Tdap vaccine and prevent the spread of pertussis.
At the time of this decision, approximately half of all seventh graders had record of a Tdap vaccination. This is typically true of Klamath County, a county that traditionally has lower vaccination rates for school-required immunizations than the state average.
Medical providers in the Klamath community were concerned about the availability of Tdap vaccine and medical personnel to provide the vaccination for the large number of seventh graders at risk for school exclusion.
Relying on expertise from the Oregon Health Authority, KCPH and our partners developed a plan for establishing the PODs.
The team sought solutions for navigating minor consent laws. To circumvent this barrier, KCPH opened two PODs at Ponderosa Middle School during parent-teacher conferences. Open to all seventh graders in Klamath County, this POD increased accessibility for parents to accompany children during the vaccination and ensure proper documentation for parental consent.
A total of 110 seventh graders were vaccinated at KCPH PODs. Of the seventh graders missing their Tdap vaccination record, 42% received a Tdap vaccine. Only 24 seventh graders were excluded from school for a missing vaccination record.
Volunteer medical providers from the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Nursing and Klamath Community College Licensed Practical Nursing program made the PODs successful. Additionally, our partnership with both the Klamath Falls City School District and Klamath County School District was essential in preventing the spread of pertussis in our community. Thank you!
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