• By Linda Means
  • Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Are You Protected Against Whooping Cough?

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 were 658 cases of pertussis reported in North Carolina in 2012, compared with 126 cases in 2011. Since January 2013 there have been 319 cases state wide and 72 of those cases are from Forsyth County.

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 highly recommended for all adults who have not yet received it. The Tdap vaccine has been available only since 2005.

Due to the whooping cough outbreak in our county and state, Tdap vaccine is now available to anyone. It is free, regardless of insurance status, 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) 703-3249.

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