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Southwest Missouri News--Branson

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by Carol Harris

The Branson Health Department's voluntary hepatitis A vaccination program was the subject of a presentation given to the Kansas City Metro Group of the Mid-Continental Association of Food and Drug Officials.

Branson's Health Department began the program in the fall of 1996 for food handlers. Since September 1997, there have been no confirmed cases of hepatitis A reported in Taney County.

Linda Randolph, a registered nurse with the Branson Health Department who gave the presentation, said the proactive approach taken to protect residents and visitors has been a model for other communities, such as Provincetown, Maine, and Wake County, N.C.

Taney County Health Department is continuing the voluntary vaccination program. Since 1996, the department reports almost 5,000 hepatitis A vaccinations have been given.

About 1,000 of these shots have been administered to children through a free program provided in several southwest Missouri counties by SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceutical, manufacturer of the vaccine.

According to the city of Branson, the pharmaceutical company plans to produce an educational video on Branson's hepatitis A vaccination program to be available to other municipalities across the country.

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