State urging Yorkers to get vaccines


The Pennsylvania Department of Health later this summer will host a public immunization clinic for children and adults in Shrewsbury, and officials are encouraging York County residents to attend.

The clinic will be held at the Paul Smith Library on Constitution Avenue from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Aug. 18, by appointment only, and will offer immunizations required by schools as well as the optional seasonal vaccines, such as influenza.

Those who are either underinsured — their insurance won't cover the vaccine — or uninsured are eligible to receive vaccines for free or at a reduced cost. The maximum cost is $5, payable by cash or money order.

Controversy: An anti-vaccination movement grew from the publication of a fraudulent research paper in 1998 in the medical journal The Lancet.

The article's author, Andrew Wakefield, lost his medical license for manipulation of evidence, multiple conflicts of interest and ethical misconduct.

The article inaccurately linked autism to the MMR (the combined measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

The movement against vaccinations has been championed by celebrities, including Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, who recently lamented California joining West Virginia and Mississippi in mandating that children receive vaccinations to attend school unless there are specific medical reasons that would prevent them from doing so.

The mandate ends exemptions for religious and personal reasons.

"We certainly hear questions about the debate on vaccine causing autism," said Joanne Sullivan, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition. "We all want to know what causes autism, but we've proven time and time again that there's no correlation between vaccines and autism."

The coalition is an educational group that seeks to educate communities and promote vaccinations.

"We frequently have conversations with people who have questions and concerns," Sullivan said. "And sometimes those concerns just aren't true. They might be dealing with myths or misinformation on the Internet, but we don't want to have an argument, we want to have the conversation."

Don't wait: The clinic will be set up in the midst of National Immunization Awareness Month.

"We like to say 'Don't wait, vaccinate,'" Sullivan said. "Then you have all those protections by the time school starts."

But convenience isn't the only reason to not wait when it comes to vaccinations, Sullivan said.

"It really takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to be effective," she said. "Be it influenza, MMR, hepatitis A or B, it takes a little time for it to really rise to maximum protection."

And immunizations protect more than just one person.

"Vaccines should be seen as very protective, not just for us as individuals, but for communities," Sullivan said. "They can protect an entire community from the spreading of a particular disease."

For information on the immunization clinic or to set up an appointment to receive a vaccine at low to no cost, call the Pennsylvania Department of Health at (717) 771-4505.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at