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Ask the St. Elizabeth Expert: What do I need to know about getting a rabies vaccine?

What do I need to know about getting a rabies vaccine? (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A new vaccine program in Northern Kentucky is designed to help address a recent surge in calls and emergency room visits by people potentially exposed to rabies.

Experts explained why it's necessary and how it could help protect families who need it.

“Our biggest risk over the last several years really has been bat exposures,” said Steve Divine of the NKY Health Department.

That's right. Blame it on the bats.

While other animals can transmit the rabies virus to people in the local area, there are a lot of houses along the river which also seem to be a problem spot for bats. People are just exposed to them and now realize it might be a potential problem.

A problem that recently started driving up emergency room visits at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and calls to the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

“If there is a bat exposure in the home then you are looking at a family that may require post exposure vaccination,” said Michele Wilbers, a St. Elizabeth Healthcare Infection Preventionist.

So Steve Divine and the team at St. Elizabeth Healthcare recently set up a unique, coordinated community program.

It provides families easy access should they ever need to get a rabies vaccine.

The idea behind this unique collaboration was to bring all the care to one place, but more importantly make it very easy so that if you came in with an exposure, with a question, with a bite you would have that medical care and then get that vaccine right away which of course is critical to your own health.

“If they have a bite or an open wound they would go to their physician or to the emergency room first, if there is an exposure and they just need the vaccine then they present to us first,” said Angie Scroggins, a nurse manager at St. Elizabeth Healthcare Vaccine Center.

The coordinated care center for a rabies vaccine is inside the main hospital on the campus of St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood.

“Our overall objective is to provide a service to the members to the community in the event that they have had some type of rabies exposure,” said Michele Wilbers, a St. Elizabeth Healthcare Infection Preventionist.

You can find a link to rabies information here.

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