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For Release:  July 7, 2010
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Special Family Immunization Clinic to Offer Vaccine Against Whooping Cough for Adults, Teens, and Babies

The U.S. Public Health Service, in partnership with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, will hold a special immunization clinic this Sunday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to
4 p.m. in the Travel and Transportation Building at the Oklahoma State Fair Park.

The clinic will offer routine vaccinations for children, teens, and adults at no charge. Vaccines children need to start kindergarten in the fall will be offered. Children in kindergarten through the twelfth grade are required to have the following vaccines: DTaP (5 doses), polio (4 doses), MMR (2 doses), hepatitis B (3 doses), hepatitis A (2 doses) and varicella (1 dose). Other vaccines offered will be the MCV (meningococcal vaccine) and the HPV (Human papillomavirus vaccine) recommended for pre-teens and teenagers.  The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine booster will also be available for teenagers and adults.  

“Most adults know they need a Td (tetanus-diphtheria) booster every ten years, but many don’t know that Tdap vaccine is now available and recommended to replace one dose of Td,” said Dr. Lynn Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Preparedness Services at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Tdap is important because it also gives protection against pertussis (whooping cough).”

This year public health officials in several states are investigating sizeable increases in pertussis cases, including more than 900 cases in California. Although Oklahoma has not yet experienced such an increase, state health officials are advising Oklahomans to make sure their children are up-to-date with DTaP vaccinations.  In addition, parents, siblings, family members, and other caregivers of infants are strongly advised to get a Tdap booster if they have not already had one.  Although childhood vaccines offer protection against whooping cough, it takes at least four doses of vaccine within the first two years of life to assure adequate protection. And because immunity to whooping cough decreases over time, a booster dose is needed at 4 to 6 years of age and at 11 to 12 years of age up to 64 years of age.

“Whooping cough is usually not a serious illness for adults and teenagers, but it can be very serious for small children, especially babies not yet old enough to complete the vaccination series,” said Mitchell. “Approximately 90 percent of whooping cough deaths in the U.S. occur in babies less than 6 months of age.”

More than half of all babies infected with whooping cough get it from their parents. It is easily spread because it is most contagious during the first few weeks of infection when it appears to be simply a cold with a cough. Older children and adults may not know they have whooping cough, yet they can still spread it to babies.

“It is very important that parents, grandparents, siblings and other people who have contact with babies are vaccinated with a single dose of Tdap,” urged Mitchell. “Pregnant women and new moms who have not received a dose of Tdap can receive it as soon as the baby is born. Expectant fathers should receive it before the baby is born.”

Mitchell emphasized that Sunday’s special immunization clinic will be an excellent opportunity for adults to learn about and receive a Tdap booster if they have not already had one. “Once you have seen a baby with whooping cough struggle to breathe, you never forget it,” she said.

For more information about this Sunday’s special immunization clinic, call the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Immunization Service at 1-800-234-6196.

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