OLYMPIA - Washington state is currently experiencing a whooping cough outbreak, and the number of cases continues to increase. In Thurston County, the number of confirmed whooping cough cases is also increasing. There have been 10 confirmed cases of whooping cough, also called Pertussis, in the county since the start of 2012. Though Thurston County is not seeing as many cases as other places in the state, there have been more cases in the first four months of this year than all of 2011. "I think the community has been dealing well with this outbreak," said Dr. Diana Yu, Health Officer, "but now is a great time to be immunized to help stop the spread of this disease." Pertussis vaccine is currently available in Thurston County, there is no shortage. County residents can get immunized by visiting their health care provider or local pharmacies.
Today Governor Gregoire announced that the state is making additional Pertussis vaccine available to uninsured adults. The vaccine will be distributed across Washington state to local public health departments to help stop the spread of the disease.
Upon receiving state supplied vaccine for uninsured adults, the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department will make it available within the community. We will be using our website (www.co.thurston.wa.us/health) and Public Information Line (360-709-3080) to inform local residents of availability. Our focus will be getting the vaccine to adults who care for infants and also pregnant women who cannot afford to be immunized.
You should be immunized for Pertussis (whooping cough) if you:
>Care for infants or have close contact with infants - 12 months old or younger.
- Care for or have close contact with pregnant women.
- >Pertussis vaccine is part of the regular schedule of recommended vaccines for children and keeping your child up-to-date remains important.It is also recommended that you be immunized for Pertussis if you:
- >Are an adult who does not know your immunization status for Pertussis.
- >Are an adult whose last Pertussis immunization was five or more years ago.
In addition to being vaccinated, there are other things you can do to stop the spread of Pertussis to infants.
>Stay away from infants and pregnant women when you are sick with a cough.
- >If asked, wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose when caring for infants.
Pertussis is spread through face-to-face contact with someone who is sick with the disease. The disease goes from person to person through tiny drops of fluid from an infected person's nose or mouth. These drops may become airborne when the person sneezes or coughs. People can become infected by inhaling the drops or getting the drops on their hands and then touching their mouth or nose.
Pertussis causes a cough illness that can last several weeks. While it can be a mild illness in older children and adults, it can cause severe illness in infants and pregnant women. Infants are at highest risk for complications such as difficulty breathing, pneumonia, convulsions, and even death. If you or someone in your family has a severe cough that causes vomiting or difficulty breathing, please call your health care provider.
For more information about Pertussis visit the Health Department's website at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health or call the Public Information Line at 360-709-3080.