As part of the Silence Whooping Cough campaign by Group Health Foundation in partnership with Public Health - Seattle & King County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, free immunization clinics for uninsured and underinsured adults will be held from 9:00am-12:00pm throughout September at the following locations:
Group Health Federal Way: Saturday, Sept. 14, 301 320th St. Federal Way, WA
Group Health Rainier: Saturday, Sept. 21, 5316 Rainer Ave. S Seattle, WA
Sea Mar Downtown: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2121 S. 19th Street, Tacoma, WA
A recent national survey from the University of Michigan shows that 61 percent of adults do not know when they were last vaccinated against whooping cough.
“Whooping cough is a serious disease that can be fatal for infants and young children who usually catch it from parents, grandparents, older siblings, and caregivers. Adults and teens often experience milder symptoms from whooping cough and are unaware they have it,” said Jane Dimer MD, an OB/GYN as well as chief of Women’s Health and Maternity Child Clinical Services for Group Health. “Pertussis can be prevented, yet more than 400 cases have been reported in Washington state this year. I urge all parents and caregivers to get the whooping cough booster shot and ensure your kids are up-to-date on their vaccinations.”
“While Washington is no longer experiencing a whooping cough epidemic, we continue to see preventable cases in pregnant women and their newborn infants, as well as others in the community,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunizations for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
The whooping cough or Tdap vaccine is recommended for parents and siblings of young children and caregivers that come into regular contact with young children. A new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to receive the Tdap vaccine between 27-36 weeks of every pregnancy to protect their newborns from the disease.
Infants and children need a series of five DTaP shots between eight weeks and four to six years of age for optimal protection. The protection provided by the childhood whooping cough vaccine series wears off over time, so everyone age 11 and older needs a whooping cough booster vaccine.
Mothers like Suzanne Bassett from Spokane, Wash. are all too familiar with the risks of whooping cough and the importance of vaccines. Bassett’s daughter, Abby, contracted whooping cough at just four weeks old and spent five weeks in the hospital, mostly in intensive care, before recovering and going home to her family.
“It was heartbreaking to watch Abby struggle to breathe,” said Bassett. “We know we could have lost her and consider ourselves lucky, but Abby still suffers from chronic lung issues. As a parent, I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure anyone who comes in contact with your baby is up-to-date on the Tdap vaccine.”
Silence Whooping Cough is a public service campaign funded by the Group Health Foundation. The campaign provides information about whooping cough to the community through a website, social media, and educational materials. A new feature of the campaign allows participants to enter a contest to win a year’s supply of free diapers by going to the Silence Whooping Cough website and sending customizable e-postcards to friends and family to alert them to the importance of getting the Tdap vaccine. Pharmacists at Walgreens, a corporate partner of the campaign, will be promoting the contest at all Walgreens pharmacies in Washington in addition to volunteering at the free vaccine clinics.
Whooping cough affects the lungs and respiratory system and spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. The infectious disease can be especially serious for infants and young children and can cause trouble breathing, eating, drinking, as well as sleeping, and in some cases can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
Group Health and its public health partners encourage everyone to visit www.silencewhoopingcough.org to learn more about the disease.
Information from a press release issued by Group Health