• By Carole K. Watson, RN, BSN
  • Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Have Your Family Members Had Whooping Cough Vaccine?

All persons need to be protected against pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, which is being reported in increasing numbers in most states in the U.S. There have been over 366 cases of pertussis reported in North Carolina since last November, compared with 126 cases in all of 2011.

Pertussis disease is highly contagious and is spread from one person to another by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Babies receive protection through DTaP vaccine but are not fully protected until they are 15-18 months of age and have had at least four doses. Older children and adults, whose protection may have decreased through the years, often become infected with pertussis and spread it to vulnerable infants. About half of all infants who have pertussis have to be hospitalized, and some of these will die from complications of the disease.

Tdap vaccine (for older children and adults) is required for students entering middle school and is recommended for all adults who have not yet received it. The Tdap vaccine has been available only since 2005. Other vaccines are required for children entering kindergarten.

Because of the whooping cough outbreak in our state, Tdap vaccine is now available to anyone at no cost for a limited time. Forsyth County Dept. of Public Health, at 799 N. Highland Avenue, Winston Salem, offers the Tdap on a walk-in basis in Clinic 3 during the following regular hours:

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8:30am-3:45pm
  • Thursday 9:30am-6:45pm
  • Friday 8:30am-11:45am

For more information on school immunization requirements in North Carolina, visit the NC Immunization Branch website at www.immunize.nc.gov or call (336) 703-3314.

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