Welcome to New Healthcare Providers for our Community-
Dr. Daniel Buckingham joined Dr. Savopoulos in July at the Cornerstone Medical Group, and Dr. Richard Porter has joined Dr. Ken Buczynski at the Wellspring Medical Group. Beginning practice later this month will be Dr. Ron Greger and Teresa Harvey, CRNP, at the Mountain Laurel Medical Center, a new federally-qualified health center (FQHC), located adjacent to the new kidney dialysis center in the lower level of the Regional Eye Center. Dr. Coughlin will be putting in a day a week at the FQHC, as well.
The previous shortage of the preferred conjugate vaccine (Menactra) is now over, and we are recalling high school students who are on our waiting list to obtain the recommended protection. This vaccine is on the VFC list and is offered at no charge for young persons eligible for VFC, while for insurance and self-pay, the charge is $106.
The recommendations for the up-coming season include expanded coverage with injectable vaccine for the pre-school group, now from 6 months up to <60 months. Vaccine is recommended for all "high risk" groups, including those under 5 and over 65, and all persons who can spread influenza to these persons, including all household members.
Generous supplies are expected this Fall, but we still can't finalize clinic plans until we have sufficient vaccine in hand for the clinics. Our target for offering community clinics now is early November. We will be offering the intranasal spray influenza vaccine as well as the injectable, and also the adult pneumococcal vaccine at these clinics.
Influenza virus vaccine Live, Intranasal (FluMist)
The Garrett County Health Department in partnership with the Garrett County Board of Education will be offering the nasal spray vaccine free of charge to all children between ages 5 and 11, with parental consent. This community-wide opportunity was piloted last year in two Maryland counties, and resulted in reduced absenteeism by students and teachers and less influenza in the communities. No adverse reactions to the vaccine were encountered. The first round of this vaccine will be administered at the elementary schools, and is now scheduled for Tuesday, October 24; a second dose will be given 4-6 weeks later for those who have not had an influenza immunization in a prior year and are under 9 years of age. A warning with this immunization concerns asthma, and we do not intend to give the vaccine to children whose parents indicate on the consent form that the child has asthma now or in the past. Current studies suggest that this is not really a problem, but the final word in not in. The alternative of the injectable vaccine will be offered to these children at no charge at the health department community flu vaccine clinics for those found ineligible for the intranasal vaccine. Vaccine for this project will be provided by VFC, by a donation of vaccine by the manufacturer (MedImmune), and the direction of special state funds by the governor to this project.