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Morris Area student Shantel Wolf was one of 118 students from seven area school districts to get vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and meningitis as part of a mass dispensing exercise organized by Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health on Thursday, April 3. Beginning Sept. 1, 2014, all students entering seventh grade will be required to have these vaccinations.

Public Health holds vaccination clinic for area students

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MORRIS – On Thursday, about 118 students, primarily sixth graders, from the Morris Area, Hancock, Chokio-Alberta, St. Mary’s, Browns Valley, Herman-Norcross and West Central Area school districts help local nurses prepare for a disaster and got the most updated vaccinations they’ll need for seventh grade.

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Ahead of a change to the state’s immunization laws, the Minnesota Department of Health Immunization Division partnered with the MDH Preparedness Division to offer free vaccines to students, if the vaccine is offered as part of a mass dispensing preparedness exercise, said Marcia Schroeder, preparedness, diseases prevention and control nurse with Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health.

“We thought this was an awesome opportunity for Public Health to practice,” said Schroeder. “If we had an emergency – a pandemic flu or anthrax outbreak – this is the place we would be asking the public to come” to get medicated quickly, she explained.

To complete the exercise, STG Public Health worked with the Morris Police Department, Stevens County Emergency Management, and Morris Area High School to provide an effective training exercise.

Area schools sent out permission slips and vaccine information sheets that were signed by parents and checked over at the exercise. Nurses also checked student records in the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC), a statewide system that stores electronic immunization records, to check on students’ prior vaccinations. Information from the exercise will be entered in that database to keep their records up-to-date, said Schroeder.

To vaccinate students as efficiently as possible, STG Public Health set up three vaccination stations with two nurses each to administer two vaccinations simultaneously.

Beginning on Sept. 1, 2014, all students entering seventh grade will be required to have the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and meningitis vaccinations. Previously, these vaccinations were recommended but not required, said Schroeder.

A recent update to Minnesota’s Immunization Law also specifies that students in all grades have documentation for all required vaccines. If schools request an immunization record, then parents need to provide immunization dates. Schools are also required to report compliance to the MDH in kindergarten and seventh grade.

For more information about immunizations visit www.health.state.mn.us/immunize or contact Stevens Traverse Grant Public Health at 320-208-6670.

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Kim Ukura
Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. 
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