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Why Can't Doctors Offer Meningitis Vaccine To Everyone?

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In Oologah, hundreds lined up to be vaccinated, and because of the severity of situation, the State Health Department made an exception. In Oologah, hundreds lined up to be vaccinated, and because of the severity of situation, the State Health Department made an exception.
Normally, the meningitis vaccine is only given to kids 11 or older, but children as young as two were able to be immunized in Oologah. Dr. Donna Krutka says parents continue to ask for it, but unlike Oologah, children younger than 11 can't be vaccinated. Normally, the meningitis vaccine is only given to kids 11 or older, but children as young as two were able to be immunized in Oologah. Dr. Donna Krutka says parents continue to ask for it, but unlike Oologah, children younger than 11 can't be vaccinated.
"If I give it too young, then it won't hold them on the other end of the spectrum when they really need it in college or boot camps," said Dr. Krutka. "If I give it too young, then it won't hold them on the other end of the spectrum when they really need it in college or boot camps," said Dr. Krutka.

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Doctors are still feeling the fallout from the meningitis outbreak in Oologah. Doctors say parents continue to request the meningitis vaccine for their children. 

But why can't doctors offer it to everyone?

The demand for the meningitis vaccine was evident in Oologah shortly after the outbreak that killed two second graders.

Hundreds lined up to be vaccinated, and because of the severity of situation, the State Health Department made an exception.

Normally, the meningitis vaccine is only given to kids 11 or older, but children as young as two were able to be immunized in Oologah.

3/21/2010  Related Story: Oologah-Talala Students Return To Class Monday Following Meningitis Outbreak

Understandably, demand for the meningitis vaccine spilled over to Tulsa. Even several weeks after the outbreak, Dr. Donna Krutka says parents continue to ask for it, but unlike Oologah, children younger than 11 can't be vaccinated.

"So then we have a discussion. We talk about the risks, and we talk about really the time when you're most at risk for this illness," said Dr. Krutka.

The risk, says Krutka, is if children are immunized at a young age, the vaccine may not be effective when they are older and more vulnerable to meningitis.

"If I give it too young, then it won't hold them on the other end of the spectrum when they really need it in college or boot camps," said Dr. Krutka.

While not many positives have emerged from the Oologah outbreak, Dr. Krutka says normally reluctant kids who are old enough have no problem getting the shot.

"When I have been saying to an 11 or 12-year-old, 'I need to give you your meningitis shot,' they sit up in that table and they, say yes ma'am. I'll take it," said Dr. Krutka.

Dr. Krutka says there is no evidence that a second meningitis vaccination, later in life, can be as effective as the first one. 

3/29/2010  Related Story: Oologah Boy Arrives At Cincinnati Hospital For Facial Reconstruction Surgery

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