Mohave County health department wants $240K for vaccines
KINGMAN – The Mohave County Health Department’s free vaccination program has grown more popular in recent years, and the demand for childhood vaccines is only expected to increase as the school year approaches.
The Mohave County Health Department is requesting approval from the county’s Board of Supervisors to accept more than $230,000 due to an expected increase in non-cash assistance for its free vaccination program, as well as an increase in received private health insurance revenue from participating companies. The health department is also requesting an additional $6,300 to provide vaccinations to Mohave County children through the remainder of this fiscal year.
The health department’s childhood vaccination program has long provided free vaccinations to Mohave County children ages 0 to 18, protecting them from communicable diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A and other illnesses. According to Mohave County Health Department Director Denise Burley, the department distributed almost 8,300 vaccinations in 2018 to more than 2,600 children.
According to the Health Department’s summary of reported communicable diseases, there have been almost 800 fewer reported cases of influenza this year, compared to year-to-date reports from 2018. Reported cases of hepatitis A occurred in Mohave County this year, following reports this April of an outbreak of hepatitis A, but no clear number of such cases has yet been made available. Mohave County residents have not reported any cases of measles or mumps in the past three years, according to the health department’s records.
A growing anti-vaccination movement in the Western U.S. has become cause for some concern, according to Burley, although many Mohave County families continue to support efforts to vaccinate their children. That movement, however, has mitigated the county’s herd immunity, Burley said. Herd immunity occurs when more than 95 percent of residents are vaccinated, offering a communal resistance to the spread of contagious diseases. The lack of a herd immunity creates more opportunity for outbreaks of otherwise preventable illnesses to occur.
“We’ve lost our herd immunity, and as a result we’re more susceptible,” Burley said. “(Anti-vaccination advocates) have impacted our numbers of vaccinations given, but our clinics are still full, and we’re still busy.”
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on improving funding for the health department’s vaccination program at its next meeting today, June 17, 2019.
The Mohave County Department of Public Health offers free immunizations to children ages 0 to 18, without regard for insurance coverage. Kingman residents who want to take part in the program can visit the health department’s Kingman office at 700 W. Beale St. every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.