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Public Health Department Offers Free Whooping Cough Vaccinations

Those Who Live With or Care for a Baby Should Get Vaccinated

Santa Clara County, California – To curb the recent whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is offering free vaccinations to prevent the spread of the disease. Babies are most at risk for serious illness and even death from whooping cough, so people who live with or care for an infant need to get a whooping cough shot.

The Public Health Department is offering four free clinics for people who do not have health insurance or access to a physician. Whooping cough shots will be given to those over age of 7 who live with or care for an infant. Pregnant women need to have a prescription from their doctor to get a shot at one of these clinics. The clinic schedule is below.

If current trends continue, it is likely that California will experience the highest rate of whooping cough in nearly 50 years, according to the California Department of Public Health. As of August 17, 3,076 cases have been reported in California so far this year, compared to 434 cases reported during the same time last year. Eight infant deaths have been reported in California this year due to whooping cough.

The Public Health Department is reaching out to the Latino community because all eight infant deaths in California were among Latino babies. In addition, when looking at age-specific rates in California, Latino infants under 6 months old have the highest rate of disease at 187 cases per 100,000 people.

In Santa Clara County, 138 whooping cough cases have been reported as of August 18, compared to 25 in all of 2009. No deaths due to whooping cough have been reported in Santa Clara County.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can cause severe coughing fits that make it difficult to breathe. At first it may seem like an ordinary cold but can become more serious. Whooping cough is most infectious before the coughing starts.

The whooping cough shot can be given to babies starting at 2 months old. But it takes five shots to get the best protection. Immunity from the disease also wears off, which is why older children and adults who live with or care for an infant should get a booster shot.

While the best way to prevent whooping cough is to get the shot, good hand hygiene also helps to reduce the spread. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizers, and keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose.

The Tdap vaccine will be used at the vaccination clinics for anyone 7 years of age and older. Tdap protects against three diseases: Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis.

Clinic Schedule

Sunday, August 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Arteaga’s Super Save Market, 6906 Chestnut Street, Gilroy

Tuesday, August 24, 5 to 8 p.m.
Rotacare Clinic at the Gilroy Neighborhood Health Clinic
South Valley Junior High School, 7861 Murray Avenue, Gilroy

Sunday, August 29, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
La Región Super Market, 400 S. King Road, San Jose

Saturday, October 16, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Mayfair Community Center, 2039 Kammerer, San Jose

Media Contacts: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5121; Maury Kendall (408)792-5265, Molly Carbajal (408)792-5207
Posted: August 20, 2010