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Low-cost pertussis vaccinations available

Pertussis (whooping cough) cases in Colorado have more than quadrupled this year, with a total of 715 cases through mid-August. This mirrors the nationwide increase with more than 22,000 pertussis cases so far in 2012.

“We are alerting the public to an epidemic number of pertussis cases in Colorado and are urging Coloradans to get vaccinated against pertussis,” said Dr. Chris Urbina, chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Rates of pertussis are highest among infants under 6 months of age, followed by infants 6 to 11 months old, and children 11-14 years.

Urbina said, “Infants are particularly susceptible and have much higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to pertussis. Infants are too young to have received all the doses necessary to protect against pertussis, so immunizing people who care for infants and who spend time around infants is key.”

In fact, a family member is the source of pertussis in 75 percent of infant cases, according to a CDC-sponsored study.

San Juan Basin Health joins CDPHE in advising that vaccination is the safest and most effective tool to prevent the spread of pertussis. Pertussis immunizations are recommended for all children and adults, but it is particularly important for people who have contact with infants to be up to date on their immunizations. Parents should ensure their children are up to date on all the their immunizations, including pertussis.

Tdap (the pertussis vaccine that also serves as a tetanus booster) is recommended for:

• Pregnant women in the third or late second trimester.

• Parents of infants under 12 months of age.

• Caregivers of infants, including grandparents, babysitters and child care workers.

• Health care workers.

• Others who plan on having close contact with an infant.

• All adults who need a tetanus booster, if they previously have not received Tdap.

San Juan Basin Health Department offers Tdap vaccinations to children, teens and adults for under $15.? Call 264-2409 in Pagosa Springs for an appointment.

For more information about immunizations, visit: sjbhd.org/immunizations.

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