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Officials encourage whooping cough vaccinations

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Whooping Cough under microscope (Generic Image)

RALEIGH, N.C. — The state department of health and human services issued a statement on Wednesday encouraging adults and children to be vaccinated for whooping cough.

According to the statement, recent outbreaks of Pertussis across the state have renewed calls from state health officials to be immunized against this highly contagious but preventable respiratory disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.”

Between December and the first week of June, state public health officials had tracked 179 cases of whooping cough covering 23 counties; Alamance County alone has seen 122 cases. There were just 126 cases of pertussis reported to the state in all of 2011.

The state encourages women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, people that come in close contact with infants under 12 months of age, and anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease to be vaccinated.

The DTaP vaccination series is recommended for children starting at 2 months of age, and continuing at 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years of age.

A Tdap booster shot should be given to children by 11 years of age because immunity from the childhood vaccines wears off over time.

Teens and adults who haven’t yet received a pertussis booster shot should also be vaccinated. 

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services-administered Immunization Program has made Tdap vaccine, available to anyone age 7 years and older, including adults, regardless of their insurance status.

For more information, visit: http://www.immunize.nc.gov/family/vaccines/pertussis.htm