Raleigh, N.C. — Recent outbreaks of pertussis across North Carolina have renewed calls from state health officials for people to be immunized against this highly contagious but preventable respiratory disease.
Between December and the first week of June, state public health officials had tracked 179 cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 23 counties. Alamance County alone has seen 122 cases, officials said.
There were 126 cases of pertussis reported to the state in 2011.
In response to the outbreak, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has made Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis, available to anyone 7 and older, including adults, regardless of their insurance status.
The Tdap booster shot is recommended for any child 7 to 10 who didn't complete the childhood DTaP vaccination series and anyone 11 and older who has not yet received a Tdap booster. It is particularly recommended for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, people in close contact with infants and anyone with a chronic respiratory disease.
Pertussis is spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others.