Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Nov. 29, 2010

Protect Your Family from Whooping Cough

With the holiday season fast approaching, families will be gathering to share meals, gifts and sometimes germs. One thing they could be sharing is pertussis, or whooping cough as many people know it. Pertussis is a very serious and contagious disease that is especially dangerous to infants who have not been fully vaccinated.

"Pertussis starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever," says Dr. Dennis Norfleet, public health director of the Oswego County Health Department. "Then, a week or two later, severe coughing begins. Infants and children with the disease cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they're forced to inhale with a loud 'whooping' sound."

Although many people are vaccinated against pertussis as children, their immunity decreases over time and they become vulnerable to contracting the disease. Pertussis symptoms in adults are milder than those in children and the adults are often unaware that they are ill and can easily pass the disease on to children.

"Household members are responsible for 75 to 83 percent of pertussis cases in found in infants," said Dr. Norfleet. "The most important thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to get the Tdap vaccine and ask other adults who will be around your family to get theirs as well."

Tdap is a vaccine that helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It can be given to people between the ages of 10 and 64, and only 1 dose is needed. Children receive a vaccine (DTaP) that protects against pertussis at two, four, six, and 15 months, and again at four to six years of age. Children will not be fully vaccinated until they receive all five doses.

Tdap is not FDA approved for people over the age of 64 at this time; however, the Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) is recommending adults age 65 and older receive a dose of Tdap if they have close contact with an infant who has not received their DTaP. Those individuals should contact their personal healthcare provider for advice.

Oswego County Health Department offers Tdap for anyone from 10 to 64 years of age at their regularly scheduled walk-in immunization clinics. The DTaP vaccine for infants and children aged two months to seven years is also available at the clinics. The cost of receiving either of these vaccines is $15. No one is ever turned away because of inability to pay.

The walk-in immunization clinics are scheduled every Friday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner Street, Oswego, and the first and third Friday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, 2 Broad Street, Pulaski.

For more information about Tdap, DTaP or other vaccines, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3547.

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