HC immunization rates holding steady, rising slightly
BY Sarah smith
Hubbard County immunization rates have been increasing slightly, thanks in part to school nurses.
That was the news from county health coordinator Raeann Mayer Tuesday.
“I continue to be concerned about the number of students immunized,” she told the board.
But public school nurses are spreading the word about the importance of getting infants immunized, and parents seem to be listening.
According to a status report from Laporte, Nevis and Park Rapids schools for the past two years, Hubbard County’s immunization percentages are above the state’s and good overall, with most above 95 percent.
The exception was chicken pox vaccinations this past year, which dropped to 94.8 percent.
“When we get down to that 90 percent figure, you lose the herd immunity,” Mayer told the Hubbard County board.
Chicken pox can cause severe illness, require hospitalizations and even be fatal for some patients, she said.
What’s worse is that chicken pox can be easily transmitted because “you don’t know you’re getting them for the first two days,” she added. “Scabs have to be healed over” before parents should let infected children leave the house.
Booster shots are available, but more people could take advantage of them.
Commissioner Cal Johannsen asked about shingles, which can strike mature adults who were exposed to chicken pox as kids.
Mayer acknowledged shingles can be problematic for adults over the age of 60, and recommended a shingles shot, which many insurance companies pay for and most drug stores offer.
Another concern is whooping cough, which seems to be enjoying a resurgence the past two years in the state.
“We’ve seen a lot more whooping cough in Minnesota,” Mayer said.
Various other programs are aimed at cradle to grave health.
SHIP, the Statewide Health Improvement Program, has received $35 million in funding and is now part of the base funding of the state’s Department of Health.
That program is working toward getting more walking paths and conducting a “bike-friendly” assessment.
One plan is to map 15- and 30-minute walks so Park Rapids workers can avail themselves of a healthy lunchtime habit.
Another program called Growing Great Kids has been funded through 2015. That program assesses families for strengths and areas they might need support. It mostly deals with the WIC program, which has 600 people enrolled in Hubbard County, with 100 infants.
A four-county program called Healthy Families, Happy Homes is just getting under way, said public health nurse Amy Morris.
That program sends trained home visitors to residences, offering pregnancy and child rearing support, information to assess a child’s development and tips for creating a safe and caring home.
Families in high risk populations are being targeted. Those include pregnant women under age 21, families known to child welfare services or who are at risk for abuse, families with a history or risk of substance and tobacco abuse, families that have low-achieving children and children of Armed Forces members, especially those who have been deployed.
The program aims to help parents build strong family foundations and promoted health childhood development through healthy parent-child relationships.
Intense home visits would be provided for a child’s first two years.
Mayer said the program will assess a child’s emotional development, and target things like depression, weight gain and other factors that the Health Department wants personnel to focus on, including domestic violence, home safety and visits to a hospital emergency room.
In other business, the board:
• Heard a request from District Court Administrator Loretta Wiebolt to move the law library in advance of the county’s construction project, slated to start late this summer.
Wiebolt presented a letter from District Judge Robert Tiffany asking for the space, to allow the courts to “realign and reconfigure its work space to effect greater efficiencies and to improve and to protect confidentiality.”
The board made no promises. A permanent location for the law library is envisioned to be finished in the fall of 2014 with the rest of the construction work.
Johannsen said any place the library moved might be less secure than its current location. He suggested re-commissioning the law library committee, which only meets as needed, to offer some suggestions.
Wiebolt said there is no space to accommodate visiting judges, court reporters of law clerks.
“It’s difficult to honor your request at this time,” Johannsen said.