For those who are in need of a whooping cough vaccine, there will be a free clinic to get the shot on Tuesday at Northern Pediatrics from 5 to 7 p.m.
Following an announcement by the Surry County Health Department that three cases of whooping cough had been detected in the county in July, doctors at Northern Pediatrics decided to offer the vaccinations for free to the public.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a common disease in the United States, with periodic epidemics every three to five years and frequent outbreaks.
Theresa Hughes, the lead communicable disease nurse at the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said Surry County’s last case of whooping cough, before the recent outbreak, happened in the summer of 2010.
“This is a highly contagious, respiration infection. The symptoms are runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, which later turn into a coughing attack that has a high pitched whoop at the end,” said Hughes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis. Confirmed pertussis cases among children in 2012 have occurred in a number of states, including New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The CDC said the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. The center said this is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given at 15 through 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4 through 6 years of age. If a 7-10-year-old is not up-to-date with DTaP vaccines, a dose of Tdap should be given before the 11-12-year-old check up.
Verona Danley, the communicable disease nurse for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, said the best treatment for the whooping cough is the antibiotic Azithromycin. After someone is diagnosed, it’s recommended that they rest at home for at least five days.
“Get to your doctor early. Get treatment,” said Danley.
North Carolina has had 179 cases through mid-June, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the state communicable disease branch, there were 126 cases of whooping cough in North Carolina in 2011. There were 343 cases in 2010.
Hughes said the disease may be on the rise because vaccinations wane over time and need to be updated. It is recommended that all adults get a one-time booster dose. Hughes said adults especially need the vaccine if they are going to be around infants 12 months old or younger.
In North Carolina schools, immunization records are checked at the beginning of each school year, with special emphasis at the start of kindergarten and at the start of the sixth grade.
August not only marks the beginning of school for most in North Carolina, but it is also recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month.
For more information, call Northern Pediatrics at 789-6267 or the Surry County Health Department at 401-8400. Northern Pediatrics is located at 100 Northpoint Blvd., in the same complex as ProHealth.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.