• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Health department offers free, reduced-price vaccines

MOLLIE QUISENBERRY is a registered nurse who works at the Woodford Health Department at 229 N. Main Street. From Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, Quisenberry and other health care professionals there gave vaccines to about 20 people, 16 of whom were children. (Photo by John McGary)

Mollie Quisenberry is the mother of a 15-month-old girl and, like most parents of young children, she's had to watch her child receive painful vaccinations. "It's hard," Quisenberry said. Quisenberry is not your average parent, though. She's a registered nurse working for the Woodford County Health Department, and as a mother and nurse, understands the qualms of parents bringing their children in for legally mandated and medically necessary shots. "As a medical professional, I think it makes it a little bit easier, because I have an idea of what to expect when I go into that visit. But for a lot of parents that come in here, they don't know what to expect, especially with those two-month shots," Quisenberry said. "They have this brand-new baby and they're coming in, and they don't know what to expect, and they know baby might be fussy. It's hard to watch them be in pain for a minute. So I think it's just important that we remember that, as the nurses here, and help comfort the parents and make it as easy as we can for them." Fear of the pain of an injection is one reason some people don't get vaccinated, but a more frequent cause is a lack of health insurance: According to a recent news release from the state Department of Health, there are approximately 300,000 Kentuckians without health coverage - some of whom are eligible for free and reduced-price vaccines at their local health department. The Kentucky Immunization Program (KIP) offers free adult vaccines to health departments for uninsured and underinsured patients ages 19 and above, though most include an administration fee. Among the free adult vaccines (with an administrative fee of $23) offered at the Woodford Health Department is TDaP (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis). State health officials made the pertussis vaccine free after declaring the state in "outbreak status" when more than 360 Kentuckians were diagnosed with whooping cough by mid-August. Other adult vaccines offered at the health department include Hepatitis A, a two-shot series in which the shots are delivered six months apart. It costs $78, including an administrative fee, for each visit. "Hep A isn't a required vaccine, so a lot of physicians, including (ours), we encourage that, but it's not something they have to have for school. So we see a lot of adults coming in who're going to be traveling out of the country. Hepatitis A is transmitted through . contaminated food and water, so if they're going out on a mission trip or they're just going on vacation, then they take it upon themselves, just to protect themselves before they go out ." Quisenberry said. The health department doesn't run the Hepatitis A and B (one shot at $68) vaccines through private insurers, though Quisenberry said Medicaid can help pay for the vaccines. The state's Vaccine For Children (VFC) program delivers vaccines to uninsured children 18-years-old and younger, many of whom are on Medicaid. Quisenberry said the health department is the only facility in Woodford County that currently provides children's vaccines. "So we're seeing a lot of those patients . they'll see their physician for their 'well-child' exam, but then they'll send them here for their regular shots ." she said. The state health department's release also provided a reminder of the Kentucky Immunization Program (KIP)'s other free adult vaccines (which may include an administrative fee) to local health departments. They include: . HPV; . MMR; . Prevnar; . Varicella; . Twinrix; . Pneumococcal; . Meningitis and Meningitis B; . Zoster (for shingles); . Td (Tetanus and Diptheria). As for patients of all ages worried about a quick sting and post-shot soreness, here's what Quisenberry tells middle-schoolers: "I say, 'It hurts a little bit, but it's quick and it's easy and we're done,'" she said. For more information about the Woodford Health Department's free and reduced-price offerings for patients of all ages, call (859) 873-4541 or come by the clinic at 229 N. Main Street.

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