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Feb. 16, 2018

Health Department Reminds People to Stay Protected from Whooping Cough

OSWEGO COUNTY -- This time of year, having a fever and cough often leads one to think of flu, but the Oswego County Health Department reminds residents that flu is not the only respiratory infection going around. Pertussis, or whooping cough as many people know it, is a very contagious disease. Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults; it is especially dangerous to infants who have not been fully vaccinated yet. Oswego County has been experiencing an increased cluster of pertussis since winter started.

"Pertussis starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever," said Jodi Martin, Supervising Public Health Nurse for the Oswego County Health Department's Preventive Division, "but pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After coughing fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a 'whooping' sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old."

Adults with pertussis usually have much milder symptoms than children with pertussis. Sometimes they are unaware that they are even ill with it. Parents, older siblings and caregivers can easily pass pertussis on to children who are not yet vaccinated against pertussis.

The easiest way to prevent pertussis is vaccination. Children receive a vaccine (DTaP) that protects against pertussis at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and at 4 to 6 years old. They will not be fully vaccinated until they receive all five doses. Starting at 11 to 12 years old, pre-teens should receive a booster called Tdap. Although many people are vaccinated against pertussis as children, their immunity decreases over time and they are then vulnerable to falling ill from pertussis. Adults should receive a booster, every 10 years, with a Tdap vaccine. Vaccination is very important for families with new infants.

The Oswego County Health Department holds walk-in immunization clinics every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St. in Oswego. Shots are also available the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Health Department offices in the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse in Pulaski. Appointments are required for the Pulaski clinic. To make an appointment, call the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.

Those planning to visit one of these locations should bring immunization records and all insurance cards with them. The health department only accepts cash or checks for payment. The department accepts all POMCO plans, Empire, Excellus BCBS, Fidelis, United Health Care (ONLY Medicare and Medicaid Plans), Medicaid, and Medicare.

For those covered by other insurance providers, the health department will provide a receipt that may be submitted to an insurance provider for possible reimbursement. For those who are uninsured, the county health department may be able to provide the vaccine at a reduced rate. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

Those who have questions about pertussis or vaccinations should call their health care provider or the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 315-349-3547.

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