ALLIANCE, Ohio -- A mass inoculation against a meningitis-related outbreak got under way Friday as the first of an expected 5,800 high school staff and students received the shots.
At Alliance High School, about 50 medical personnel started by giving vaccine doses to teachers so they could later help with the effort to inoculate the students.
An outbreak of a disease related to bacterial meningitis killed two teens and made a third seriously ill in recent weeks. In all, students and staff at six high schools were getting the shots, and health officials turned schools into makeshift clinics.
The Ohio Department of Health said the shots were only precautionary but were necessary to help ease the fears of residents in this blue-collar community of 23,000. The state is paying for the $55-per-dose vaccine.
About 1,500 people were expected to be inoculated at Alliance High School. Tables filled with jars of cotton balls and hazardous waste containers for the disposal of used needles were set out there.
Surrounding counties donated nurses and needles, said Sharon Andreani, director of nursing for the Alliance Health Department.
At nearby Marlington High School, cots and eight vaccination tables were set up in the auditorium. Security was assigned there because of concerns that people not on the vaccination list would try to get the shots, school district spokesman Dan Buckel said earlier.
The vaccine is up to 90 percent effective against four strains of the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, including the one involved in the outbreak, said Dr. Nancy Rosenstein of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jonathan Stauffer and Kelly Coblentz, both 15, died late last month of meningococcemia, a blood infection caused by the bacteria. The bacteria also causes meningitis, a disease of the brain. Christin VanCamp, 18, remains hospitalized.
The bacteria are spread through saliva, but health officials aren't sure how the three teen-agers were infected or how many people the bacteria might have reached.
Stauffer and Coblentz both attended Beloit West Branch High School but their families said they weren't friends and disputed reports that the two may have passed the infection by sharing a water bottle at a school picnic.
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