The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department will hold a free vaccination clinic Saturday to help protect against whooping cough and other serious diseases. Vaccinations to prevent Tetanus- Diphtheria-Pertussis (Tdap) will be available at the Health Department from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Children’s immunizations (Dtap) will also be available. The health department is at 3629 S. “D” St. in Tacoma.
The state Department of Health reports that whooping cough (pertussis) is at epidemic levels in Washington and that cases are continuing to rise. The total number of cases – 1,008 as of April 21 – is more than was reported in all of 2011. In Pierce County, health officials confirmed 131 cases by April 21, and the number is expected to grow. The state is on pace to reach more than 3,000 cases for the year – a level that hasn’t been seen in more than six decades.
“We’re very concerned about the risk to infants, especially because of how quickly whooping cough is spreading,” says Secretary of Health, Mary Selecky. “Whooping cough can be life-threatening for infants, and they’re too young to get enough doses of vaccine to be protected. That’s why we want everyone else to make sure they’re vaccinated against whooping cough.”
Already this year 71 Washington infants under 1 year old have been reported to have whooping cough. Many cases are being reported in school age children. The vaccine that young children get wears off over time, so health officials recommend all children age 11-12 should get a whooping cough booster shot.