In an effort to slow the spread of whooping cough in Snohomish County, the Snohomish Health District
has launched a two-fold campaign to increase vaccinations that prevent the highly contagious disease.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a respiratory disease that is harbored and spread by adults and children and is particularly harmful to infants, who have no immunity. All adults and teens need to get a whooping cough booster shot known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) because immunity from childhood vaccine wears off over time.
As of May 4, Snohomish Health District has confirmed 270 reports of whooping cough in 2012, although most cases go unreported, especially in adults.
"We are taking a community-wide approach to slowing down this epidemic," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Health District. "Building immunity in the adult population of our county will protect the most vulnerable among us--infants."
First, the Health District is placing whooping cough vaccine in retail pharmacies to dispense to low-income, uninsured adults throughout the county. The 15 participating pharmacies will not charge for the cost of the vaccine but may charge a fee up to $15.60 for giving the shot.
The free vaccines are available at Arlington Pharmacy, 540 West Ave.; at Bartell Drug locations in Everett, Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Stanwood; and at QFC pharmacies in Everett and Stanwood.
Second, to promote the free vaccine, the Health District campaign has developed a special coupon for participants of the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) nutrition program to give to family and friends who may come into contact with their babies. The coupon encourages low-income, uninsured adults to visit a Snohomish Health District Clinic or participating pharmacy for the free vaccination.
Other low-cost vaccinators are listed on the Health District's site at www.snohd.org
. Some may charge for the cost of the vaccine and an administration fee, but can discount the cost according to federal guidelines for income level.
Whooping cough has been at an epidemic rate in Snohomish County since last summer, and the state Department of Health recently declared a statewide epidemic. Governor Chris Gregoire announced on May 3 that new supplies of pertussis vaccine would be available to all counties. Snohomish County will begin receiving its first allocation of vaccine in the next two weeks, and intends to distribute it through the volunteer pharmacy system.