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School immunizations delayed due to shortage

Susie Vasquez

The bad news for Carson City kids: School starts Aug. 28.

The good news: Some won’t have to get their required immunizations until next January.

Due to a nationwide shortage of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (Td), the Center for Disease Control is recommending routine adult and adolescent boosters be delayed until 2002.

In Carson City that means students, primarily adolescents requiring booster immunizations, will be deferred.

“We enforce school entry requirements, but will be relaxing those until the shortage eases,” Robert Salcido, program manager for immunizations at the Nevada Department of Health said. “Schools are aware of the shortage. A list of those not up to date on their Td (tetanus and diphtheria) immunization will be kept, and they’ll be recalled at a later date.”

School children between 11 and 12 years of age should receive varicella and measles, mumps and rubella immunizations. Hepatitis vaccine should be given at this time if previously missed and the Td, or tetanus/diphtheria toxoid should be administered between the ages of 11 and 16 according guidelines published by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

One of two manufacturers in the United States discontinued production of tetanus toxoid-containing products last January and Aventis Pasteur of Swiftwater, Pa., is now the only major nationwide manufacturer.

The company increased production to meet national needs, but making the toxoid is an 11-month process and the shortage is expected to last through 2001.

The company has asked for the cooperation of health care providers during this interim period to meet all critical care needs and the Center for Disease Control has created guidelines.

Toxoids are being shipped to public health clinics and urgent care facilities so adequate supplies are available for priority needs, including the following:

–Those with severe or contaminated wounds should be given tetanus shots only if five years have passed since the last dose, or 10 years if the wound is minor.

–Those traveling to high risk countries like Algeria, Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, Ecuador and Haiti could be exposed to toxigenic strains of C. diptheriae and should be immunized.

–People who previously received less than three doses of vaccine containing tetanus and diphtheria toxoids are candidates.

–The toxoid should be administered to pregnant women not vaccinated within the last 10 years.