Durham offers free whooping cough vaccinations after six cases reported
Posted September 6, 2012
Durham, N.C. — Durham County health officials are encouraging residents to get vaccinated against pertussis – or whooping cough – after reporting six confirmed cases of the respiratory ailment.
The six cases have happened since January, and there are several more under investigation, officials said Thursday.
Statewide, 216 cases have been reported in 44 counties this year so far, compared with 126 cases for 2011.
Last month,the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the first death this year from whooping cough – a 2-month-old child from Forsyth County.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and spread usually by coughing or sneezing in close contact. It can be serious at any age, but it is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, state health officials said. Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who may not know they have the disease.
Officials are strongly urging parents to take precautions to safeguard their children against whooping cough. Children should have current vaccinations and boosters, and adults who interact with children also should be immunized.
“The number of cases in Durham County represents only a fraction of the actual number,” said Dr. Arlene Sena, Durham County Health Department Medical Director. “Many people contract pertussis, but few are actually tested when they seek medical attention. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that everyone takes the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of pertussis, including getting the Tdap booster shot.”
The Durham County Health Department is offering free Tdap shots to anyone while supplies last. Call 919-560-7600 for more information.
DHSS also is offering Tdap vaccinations at no cost for residents ages 7 and older. Health care providers may charge an administration fee.
The vaccine is available through the North Carolina Immunization Network, which includes private health care providers and local health departments.
Tdap is highly recommended for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant; anyone in close contact with infants under 12 months old; and anyone with a chronic respiratory illness.