Just 20 years ago Haemophilus influenza type b was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in infants and children. Hib meningitis killed 600 each year and left many survivors with deafness, seizures or mental retardation. Since the introduction of Hib conjugate vaccine in 1987 the incidence of Hib meningitis has dropped by 97 to 99 percent. This is not a new phenomenon. The same thing was seen with polio, pertussis, measles and many other diseases that are now vaccine preventable.

Yet, 30 percent of northern California’s toddlers are not up- to-date on their immunizations. Children should not be left unprotected. All 2-year-old children should have three polio, four DTaP, three Hep B and at least one Hib, one MMR and one varicella. In addition, there is a new vaccine for infants and toddlers that offers protection against invasive pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and infection throughout the blood stream.

Parents should not wait to vaccinate children who are behind or who need more shots for school entry. El Dorado County Health Department is offering two free walk-in clinics at South Lake Tahoe. They will be from 1 to 4 p.m. April 27 and June 27 at 1360 Johnson Blvd., Suite 103. Appointments are not necessary but parents must bring their child’s immunization records. For more information call (530) 573-3155.

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