Officials see no need for meningococcal vaccinations

YOUNGSTOWN -- Local and state health officials haven't confirmed any cases of meningococcal disease in the area during the past few days, so they're not planning a vaccination program in the near future.
"If we had more cases, there would be more talk of vaccinating folks," said Diana Colaianni, the director of nursing for the Mahoning County Health Department. "Nobody right now, from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta] on up, is recommending any kind of mass immunization."
Two deaths: Two West Branch high school students died over the holiday weekend, apparently from the disease. Jonathan Stauffer, 15, a freshman, died Saturday. Kelly Coblentz, 16, a sophomore, died Monday.
Two people with symptoms remain in isolation at Salem Community Hospital. County health officials also said "a few" others are in isolation at Alliance Community Hospital.
Colaianni said people who were exposed to Stauffer and Coblentz received antibiotics, including Rifampin for people younger than 18.
Handed out free: More than 1,000 free doses of Rifampin were handed out earlier this week at a clinic at Alliance Community Hospital. The clinic, which opened Monday, closed Wednesday night after hospital officials determined there were no new apparent cases of the disease.
People older than 18 at the clinic were prescribed the antibiotic Cipro.
Mahoning health officials have said that anyone who hasn't had antibiotics after possible exposure to the disease should see their family doctor.
"The people that have been exposed here have received the appropriate treatment," Colaianni said.
Jay Carey, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, added, "We've already been very aggressive with the way we did the preventive therapy."
Colaianni said the vaccination doesn't take effect for 10 days. The vaccine is typically given to college students before they enter school, she added.

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