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Health Department Urges Oklahomans To Get Vaccinated Against Whooping Cough

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Vaccinations are especially important for anyone who may have contact with a young child. Vaccinations are especially important for anyone who may have contact with a young child.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that the current whooping cough outbreak could become the worst in more than half a century, according to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Officials are reminding Oklahomans to make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations.

According to the health department, the number of whooping cough (pertussis) cases in Oklahoma is low at this point, however, outbreaks in other states are raising concerns about the possibility that the disease could spread.

7/16/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma City Infant Dies Of Whooping Cough

"Vaccination is the most effective means of avoiding whooping cough," OCCHD Medical Director Dale Claflin said.

Whooping cough is a serious illness that can affect people of any age, but infants and young children are at greatest risk, according to health officials. Even with early vaccinations, babies don't develop a strong immunity to whooping cough until they are older. That's why vaccinations are especially important for anyone who may have contact with a young child.

"The best way to prevent whooping cough in young children and infants is to surround them with people who have been vaccinated against the disease," Claflin said.

According to the CDC, parents, brothers, sisters, and others living in the same household are the source for 75 percent to 83 percent of whooping cough cases in infants under 12 months old. Grandparents are the source for six to eight percent of whooping cough cases in babies.

Anyone who might have contact with babies should be vaccinated against whooping cough, including:

• All children at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 18 months of age and at 4 to 6 years of age

• Pregnant women past 20 weeks gestation

• Women not vaccinated during pregnancy should receive Tdap immediately post-partum

• Child care workers

• Health care personnel, including anyone employed in clinics or hospitals

• All family members and relatives

Oklahoma health officials say word of a possible whooping cough epidemic combined with a state law regarding vaccinations has sharply increased the demand for vaccinations against the highly contagious disease.

Beckham County Health Department director Karen Weaver said Friday that the department has provided 386 vaccinations during July -- up from an average of 40 to 50.

The state is not seeing an increase in whooping cough -- or pertussis -- cases being reported in other states.

State Health Department Chief of Immunization Services Bobbie Nubine says there are 28 confirmed cases in 2012. That's down from 38 at this time last year.

Nubine says a 2011 state law requiring all public school 7th graders receive a booster shot against the disease and two others also increased vaccine demand.

Tdap or DTaP vaccine is available at the health department for all ages. For more information, contact the OCCHD immunizations line at (405)-425-4450.

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