OOLOGAH — Children and adults with Oologah-Talala Elementary School that experienced an outbreak of bacterial meningitis that killed two students will get vaccinations this week under a state Health Department plan.
Doses of the vaccine have been ordered and are expected to arrive in Oklahoma about midweek, said Dr. Kristy Bradley, state epidemiologist. About 550 children, ages 2 to 10, plus teachers and others affiliated with the school will be eligible for the immunizations, she said.
The grandmother of Jeremiah Mitchell, 6, one of five survivors of the disease, left his bedside at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa only long enough to be told that the state will be giving immunizations.
"Absolutely, that’s the best news I’ve had in days,” Carolyn Mitchell said. "And when do they plan to do that? Wonder what squeaky wheel was squeaking? Hallelujah, praise God!”
The family has been beside Jeremiah since the boy became ill at school Wednesday and was flown from Claremore Indian Hospital to St. Francis on Thursday morning.
She said Jeremiah remains in severely critical condition and in a medically induced comma.
Earlier on Monday, Mitchell had criticized the state Health Department for treating students with antibiotics but no immunizations.
"I’m just livid,” she said.
"The public needs to be informed of their choices. There is a vaccine available for 2 and up, but our Health Department only considers it important for 11 and up.”
Bradley said that the vaccine — used for three strains plus the "C” strain found in the outbreak — is labeled for ages 2 to 55 years but has only been routinely recommended for adolescents beginning at 11 years old.
Funding through a federal "Vaccines for Children” program applies to children from 11 to 18 years, she said.
The state Health Department was able on Monday to secure the federally funded vaccine for the 2 to 10 year age group because of the need to control the outbreak, Bradley said.