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Mass inoculation against meningitis-related outbreak under way in Ohio
By CARRIE SPENCER, Associated Press
A nurse fills a needle with meningitis vaccine in Salem, Ohio on Friday. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
ALLIANCE, Ohio (June 8, 2001 11:02 a.m. EDT) - A mass inoculation against a meningitis-related outbreak began Friday, with the first of an expected 5,800 high school staff and students receiving the shots.
At Alliance High School, about 50 medical personnel started by giving vaccine doses to teachers so they could help later with the effort to inoculate the students.
An outbreak of a disease related to bacterial meningitis killed two teens and made a third seriously ill in recent weeks. In all, students and staff at six high schools were getting the shots, and health officials turned schools into makeshift clinics.
The Ohio Department of Health said the shots were only precautionary but were necessary to help ease the fears of residents in this blue-collar community of 23,000. The state is paying for the $55-per-dose vaccine.
About 1,500 people were expected to be inoculated at Alliance High School. Tables filled with jars of cotton balls and hazardous waste containers for the disposal of used needles were set out there.
Surrounding counties donated nurses and needles, said Sharon Andreani, director of nursing for the Alliance Health Department.
At nearby Marlington High School, cots and eight vaccination tables were set up in the auditorium. Security was assigned there because of concerns that people not on the vaccination list would try to get the shots, school district spokesman Dan Buckel said earlier.
The vaccine is up to 90 percent effective against four strains of the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, including the one involved in the outbreak, said Nancy Rosenstein of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jonathan Stauffer and Kelly Coblentz, both 15, died late last month of meningococcemia, a blood infection caused by the bacteria. The bacteria also causes meningitis, a disease of the brain. Christin VanCamp, 18, remains hospitalized.
The bacteria are spread through saliva, but health officials aren't sure how the three teenagers were infected or how many people the bacteria might have reached.
Stauffer and Coblentz both attended Beloit West Branch High School but their families said they weren't friends and disputed reports that the two may have passed the infection by sharing a water bottle at a school picnic.
VanCamp is a student at Marlington High School, about 15 miles from West Branch. She had attended funeral home calling hours for Stauffer. She was in stable condition at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron and was being moved out of intensive care for the first time since Saturday, when she arrived in a coma.
Authorities previously distributed antibiotics to 37,000 residents of several northeast Ohio communities and decided only those who may have come in direct contact with the infected students needed shots.
As another precaution, Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Youngstown Roman Catholic Diocese ordered eight parishes in the area to temporarily stop using a shared communion cup.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), June 08, 2001