Elkhart County
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Immunizations

Q: What are vaccinations?

A: Vaccinations (vaccines) protect your child against serious diseases by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies against certain bacteria or viruses.

Q: I don't know anybody who has had measles or rubella. Why does my baby need these shots?

A: These diseases are common in other parts of the world and are just a plane ride away. If we stop vaccinating against these diseases, many more people will become infected.

Q: Isn't there some way besides vaccination to protect my baby against these diseases?

A: No. Breastfeeding offers temporary immunity against some minor infections like colds, but it is not an effective means of protecting a child from the specific diseases preventable by vaccines. The price paid for natural disease can include paralysis, retardation, liver cancer, deafness, blindness, or even death.

Q: What if my baby has a cold or fever or is taking antibiotics? Can he or she still get vaccinated?

A: Yes. Your child can still be vaccinated if he or she has a mild illness, a low-grade fever, or is taking antibiotics.

Q: How many times do I need to bring my baby in for vaccinations?

A: At least four visits are needed before age two.

Q: How do I know when to take my baby in for shots?

A: Your healthcare provider should give you a reminder when the next doses are due. If you are not sure, call your clinic or healthcare provider to find out when you should bring your child back.

Q: What if I miss an appointment? Does my baby have to get the shots all over again?

A: No. If your baby misses some doses, it's not necessary to start over. Your provider will continue from where he or she left off.

Q: How do I keep track of my baby's shots?

A: Your healthcare provider should give you a personal record card for your child's vaccinations. If you don't receive one, ask! Bring the card to all medical appointments.

Q: What if my child isn't a baby anymore? Is it too late to get him or her vaccinated?

A: No. Although it's best to have your child begin vaccination as an infant so that he is protected, it's never too late to start. Your healthcare provider will decide what your child needs based on his age.

Q: Are vaccinations safe?

A: Vaccines are safe, and researchers continually work to make sure they become even safer. Most side effects from vaccinations are minor, such as soreness where the injection was given or a low-grade fever. If you have concerns or questions, talk to your child's healthcare provider.

Q: Can you get Chickenpox (Varicella) from Shingles (Herpes Zoster)?

A: Yes. Transmission may occur from person to person from infected respiratory tract secretions. Transmission may also occur by respiratory contact with airborne droplets or by direct contact or inhalation of aerosols from vesicular fluid of skin lesions of acute Chickenpox (Varicella) or Shingles (Herpes Zoster).

Q: Where can members of my family get their immunizations?

A: Childhood immunizations are provided by appointment at selected sites in the county. Adult eligible immunizations are available by appointment Elkhart. Call 574-523-2127 or 1-877-523-2283 extension 2127 to make an appointment.

Q: Isn't all this talk about diseases just a way to scare parents so they'll bring their babies in for shots?

A: No. Vaccine preventable diseases can injure and kill. Pertussis (whooping cough), for example, resulted in the death of 2 unprotected children in Indiana in 2010.

Q: What diseases do vaccines protect against?

A: Vaccines protect against measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Hib disease (a bacteria that causes meningitis in infants), chickenpox, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal,HPV (Human Papillomavirus), Rotavirus, and Shingles.

Q: How do I obtain my child's immunization record?

A: Print and complete the immunization request form and mail to the Elkhart County Health Department, 608 Oakland Ave, Elkhart, IN 46516. Call for cost of services.

Q: Why does my child need so many shots of the same vaccine?

A: There are certain vaccines that are given in small doses with time in between so your child's body can create the antibodies it needs. Each dose helps produce more antibodies for your child.

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Breast and Cervical Cancer Program

Q: How important is it to do self-breast exams?

A: It is very important to do monthly exams and to become familiar with your body to detect any changes. Most women find breast lumps before their physicians.

Q: What if I have breast implants? Or hysterectomy?

A: You can still have a mammogram when you have breast implants. If you have had a total hysterectomy, you will not need a Pap smear.

Q: Will I have a mammogram on the day of the appointment?

A: No. The provider at the Health Department will do a clinical breast exam to determine if you need a screening or a diagnostic mammogram. Then an appointment is made for you either at The Retreat in Goshen or Elkhart General Hospital.

Q: Are there any requirements for the BCCP Program?

A: Yes. You have to be 30-64 years old. There is a gross income requirement with the number of people in your household. If you are not insured, or if you have unmet deductibles, or your plan does not cover screenings, you may be eligible.

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Lead

Q: How much does it cost to have a lead test done at the Health Department?

A: There is no cost for the lead screen.

Q: How can I tell if my child has lead poisoning?

A: Many times the lead poisoned child does not have any symptoms. The only way to find out if a child has lead poisoning is to do the lead test.

Q: How can I protect my child from lead?

A: Here is a list of suggestions that will help protect your child:

  • Wash your child's hands and face frequently, especially before eating.
  • Wash toys, countertops and windowsills and wet mop floors weekly with an all-purpose detergent.
  • Don't consume imported foods that come in cans with wide seams.
  • Avoid giving children imported candy or snacks containing chili or tamarind.
  • Feed your child regular meals with a diet high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C and low in fat.
  • Clean up paint chips and peeling paint safely.
  • Keep furniture away from damaged paint. Pay special attention to cribs, beds, highchairs, and playpens.
  • Allow cold water to run for a few minutes in the morning before using it for drinking, cooking, or mixing formula in case there may be lead in your household pipes. Do not use hot water from the tap for drinking or in food preparation.
  • Avoid using handmade, older, or imported dishes for food or drink preparation, storage, or serving, unless you are sure they do not contain lead.
  • Avoid using imported home remedies or cosmetics that contain lead.
  • Take off your shoes before entering the house. (Wipe shoes off - this will help prevent lead dust and soil from getting into your house.)
  • Don't let your child play in areas where bare soil is exposed.
  • Vacuum carpets frequently to reduce household dust, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Change out of work clothes before entering the house or being in contact with family members. If you work with lead at your job or hobby, take a shower at your workplace, if possible. Otherwise, shower and remove clothing immediately upon returning home. Handle clothing carefully and wash separately.
  • When moving into a home, ask the owner about any problems with lead and know the age of the building.
  • Before remodeling, ask a trained professional to test the paint in your house. If lead is in the paint, learn how to handle it safely.

Q: Can lead poisoning be treated?

A: Once lead is in the body, the damage it causes cannot be reversed. Chelation therapy, for children with very high lead levels, will only lower those levels. It will not repair the damage already done. Chelation therapy is only used when blood lead levels are very high.

The best way to prevent lead poisoning is to have your child tested and keep him or her from coming into contact with lead-contaminated objects.

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Communicable Disease

Q: Why do I have to come back in two days after I had my TB test? Can't I just tell you over the phone what my arm looks like?

A: The site of the test needs to be observed and felt by a trained TB test administrator for an official "reading". Sometimes subtle changes have occurred that must be "felt". If the person does not come back for a reading in 48 to 72 hours, the test must be repeated at the person's expense.

Q: If I had BCG vaccine, why do I need a TB skin test? It will be positive.

A: A BCG vaccine is given in countries with a lot of TB. It is only good for about 5 years to help prevent active TB. Then it wears off. Anyone with a history of BCG who develops a positive TB test is considered to have been infected with TB and will need a baseline X-ray to rule out active TB.

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HIV & STI Prevention

Q: Is the test kept confidential?

A: Yes, it is strictly confidential. We will not release any information to any agency or individual without your consent.

Q: Do I have to bring my parents?

A: No, parental permission is not required for our services.

Q: Do you give out free condoms?

A: Yes, free condoms are available any time during clinic hours.

Q: If I was exposed to HIV a month ago, how long until it shows on a test?

A: It could take up to three months from the time you are exposed to show on a test.

Q: What should I do if I have symptoms?

A: You should call for an appointment as soon as possible. Be sure to mention that you are having symptoms when you schedule the appointment.

Q: What do I do if I test positive?

A: Follow through with your medical provider's instructions, including taking all medicine and abstaining from sex for the specified amount of time. It is also very important that your sex and/or needle sharing partners are informed of the contact and receive testing and any treatment that is needed.

Q: What do I do if my partner has a positive test?

A: You need to schedule an appointment for testing and treatment as soon as possible. It is very important that you mention to your medical provider that you have been in contact with an STI. Do not have sex until both you and your partner have completed your treatment.

Q: How long can I have an STI without knowing it?

A: There are often no symptoms of an STI which means you can have one for a long period of time without knowing it. If symptoms are present, they usually show (typically from a few days to a month) shortly after exposure.

Q: Can I still have an STI if I don't have any symptoms?

A: Yes, often times there are no symptoms of an STI.

Q: Can I still be treated for an STI if I am pregnant?

A: Yes, there are treatments available that are safe during pregnancy for most STI's. It is important to let your provider know if you are or may be pregnant so that a safe treatment is provided.

Q: Where can I go if I don't have insurance?

A: Elkhart County Health Department, STI Clinic, (574) 523-2128.

Q: Where can I get a free HIV test?

A: You can call (574) 523-2128 to set up an appointment for a free HIV test at the Health Department in Elkhart.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: HIV testing - Free
STI Clinic - Call for cost of services.

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Office Location:

Lincoln Center
608 Oakland Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516-2116
Phone: (574) 523-2127
Fax: (574) 522-2192
Toll Free: 1-877-523-2283

Office Hours:

Monday: 8:00am-5:00pm
Tuesday through Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm