Special Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for Pertussis (“Whooping Cough”)

The Greene County Combined Health District (GCCHD) has seen an increase in the number of cases of “Whooping Cough”, medically known as Pertussis, over the past few months with a total of 7 confirmed cases reported in Greene County to date. Pertussis is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and is easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. A severe cough caused by Pertussis can last for weeks or months, sometimes leading to coughing fits and/or vomiting. Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be very dangerous for infants and people with weakened immune systems. Family members with pertussis, especially mothers, can spread pertussis to newborns.

The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. Severe coughing begins after 1–2 weeks. Infants and children with the disease cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. Pertussis is most severe for babies; more than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized.

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4–6 years of age. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

Please make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time. Older children and adults should get a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” to protect themselves and infants near or around them. Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccination with each pregnancy, preferably in the last trimester of pregnancy.

GCCHD is offering a special clinic on Thursday, November 21 from 4-6pm at the Xenia office located at 360 Wilson Drive. The cost of the vaccine is $50.00 for adults, age 18 and older and $12.00 for children up to age 18. There is also a $15.00 office visit fee. Medicaid, Anthem and Medical Mutual will be billed. Those with other forms of insurance will need to pay the fees and submit a receipt to their insurance for possible reimbursement. No child will be denied the vaccine due to inability to pay.

A Pertussis fact sheet is available on the GCCHD website at http://www.gcchd.org. If you need the Tdap vaccine, contact your doctor or call the GCCHD Immunization Program at 937-374-5668. For more information, please call Amy Schmitt, RN at (937) 374-5638 at the Greene County Combined Health District or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov.

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