Health Department Urges: “Cocoon” Island Babies from Pertussis
San Juan County Health officials are urging the County’s residents to make sure all adults and older children who come in contact with very young children are immunized against the disease pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough.
Friday, Apr 20 2012 -
County Personal Health Manager Susan Leff noted that many residents of San Juan County, young and old, have suppressed immune systems and depend on “community immunity” to protect their health.
The “Tdap” vaccine, which provides protection from the Pertussis, is covered by most health insurance plans. Children under the age of 19 can also receive publically supplied vaccine through a health care provider at a reduced cost. And to insure that lower income, uninsured residents can be immunized, the San Juan County’s Health and Community Services Department has obtained several doses of the vaccine which it will administer for just the $20 cost of an office visit.
The local concern is great in the wake of the state Health Department’s report that, statewide, whooping cough has reached epidemic levels. More than 640 cases have been reported in 23 Washington Counties through the end of March. The disease is blamed for infant deaths in Snohomish and Grant counties.
Though Pertussis cases were found in San Juan County in October and November, it has not reappeared here so far this year.
“With our residents traveling regularly to the mainland, we have been fortunate to avoid another flare-up of infections,” Leff said.
She said that whooping cough vaccines are recommended for all adults and for children over 12 months of age. The disease has cold-like symptoms and is highly contagious. Its long, severe cough can last for weeks and it is most dangerous for babies, though it can cause serious health problems for people of any age. The Tdap vaccine provides a high level of protection, but infants younger than 6 months cannot be inoculated which, according to Leff, is why it is extremely important that the people around them keep their vaccinations up to date.
Local residents who cannot afford to pay for the Tdap vaccine are encouraged to contact the Health Department at: 378-4474 to see if they qualify for the subsidized vaccination program.