Whooping cough cases rise in Franklin County

Written by Vicky Taylor/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Nov 22, 2016 7:38 AM

A health care worker administers a shot during a whooping cough clinic Friday, November 11, 2016 at Chambersburg Area Senior High School. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Chambersburg) -- After deciding against holding any more pertussis vaccination clinics locally, the state Department of Health backtracked and announced it would hold two more clinics this week.

The clinics are set for 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. today and tomorrow in the Chambersburg Area Senior High School auditorium, 115 S. Sixth St.

The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough in the area is now at 61, or 10 more than reported on Friday, the health department says.

CASHS Communications Director Susan Breslin said the school district was contacted Monday by a health department representative, who asked if the high school auditorium would be available on those days for the clinics.

Health department nurses and personnel run the clinics and provide the vaccine.

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said the continued rise in confirmed pertussis cases made the clinics vital and timely, especially with the holidays coming up.

"Getting a Tdap vaccine is the most effective and easiest way to prevent pertussis and protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated against this extremely contagious disease," she said. "The best way to protect your loved ones this holiday season is to get vaccinated."

Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, has spread through both the Chambersburg and Shippensburg schools since school started in September, hitting mostly high school students but also some in middle schools and a few elementary students.

Kristin Carroll, director of pupil services at CASD, said the health department has been supportive in trying to stop the spread of the disease in district schools.

The department held three vaccination clinics at CASHS last week and one at Shippensburg Area Senior High School, vaccinating almost 1,200 people in the four clinics.

Because immunity from the vaccine fades over time, most adolescents and adults are susceptible to the disease, according to the Department of Health.

In addition to the typical childhood series of pertussis immunizations at 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months, and a booster at 4-6 years, the department recommends the adolescent-adult pertussis vaccine, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, booster for:

  • People 10-64 years of age who are not fully immunized;
  • Pregnant women during each pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. Women who have never received Tdap and who do not receive it during pregnancy should receive it immediately postpartum;
  • People who have contact with pregnant women or infants too young to have received a full series of vaccinations; and
  • All family members and caregivers of infants who are not old enough to get vaccinated against pertussis.

This weeks clinics are open to residents, school staff and others who need the Tdap boosters.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and Public Opinion Online.

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