Do you need a rabies vaccination?

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 at the Northern Kentucky Health Department and St. Elizabeth Healthcare met up with Local 12’s Liz Bonis to explain why a rabies vaccination may be 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 Northern Kentucky Health Department.

While other animals can transmit the rabies virus, the bats seem to be a particular problem near the houses along the river.

The problem recently started driving up emergency room visits at St. Elizabeth 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, an infection preventionist  at St. Elizabeth.

Working with Divine and the team at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, St. Elizabeth recently set up a unique, coordinated community program.

It provides easy access should Northern Kentucky residents ever need 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. When folks come in with an exposure, questions or even a bite, they have the medical care and vaccine available right away, which, of course, is critical to the region’s 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 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 Wilbers.

To view the segment on Local 12, click here.