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(West Plains) – The Howell County Health Department has partnered with the Missouri Bureau of Immunization Assessment and Assurance to offer a rare opportunity for area residents to receive, at no charge, Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), Meningococcal (MVC4) and Gardasil HPV vaccines.

The vaccination clinic has been scheduled for August 11, from 9AM-6PM at the Howell County Health Department, 180 Kentucky in West Plains. The clinic is offered to any and all area children ages 11 to 18 and all area college students’ ages 19 through 26 years of age, and is free of charge to all those who participate. Donations will be accepted to offset costs for holding the clinic.

Agency Administrator, Chris Gilliam, stated that the participant ages identified for the free clinic are based on the age recommendations of the vaccines being provided.

If you would like to inquire further about the upcoming clinic please call the Howell County Health Department at 417-256-7078.

DISEASES

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis can be very serious diseases, even for adolescents and adults. The Tdap vaccine can protect individuals from these diseases. Tetanus (lockjaw) causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It kills about 1 in 5 who are infected.

Diphtheria can cause a thick coating to form in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death. Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which could include pneumonia or death. Tdap is especially important for anyone having close contact with a baby younger than 12 months. According to the CDC, pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during every pregnancy to protect the newborn from pertussis.

Meningoccocus bacteria can pose significant risk to those who become infected, and can claim a child’s life in the matter of hours. Although infants, less than a year of age, are at the highest risk of getting the disease, adolescents and teens are the most likely to die from it. Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adolescents and teens. Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening illness. It is caused by a bacterium that infects the blood, brain, and spinal cord. It is one of the most serious causes of meningitis. The disease is easily spread from person to person. Even with proper treatment, 10% to 15% of people with meningococcal disease die. Of those who survive, as many as 20% suffer some serious complications. This can include brain damage and hearing loss, to name just a couple. The disease most often strikes older teens and young adults. Vaccinations are known to be the best way to prevent meningitis.

HPV is a common virus that is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity.  It is possible to have HPV without knowing it, so it is possible to unknowingly spread HPV to another person. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women.  There are approximately 12,000 new cervical cancer cases each year in the U.S., accounting for approximately 4,000 deaths. Certain types of HPV also cause most cases of genital warts in men and women.

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