Lifestyle

Free clinics provide whooping cough vaccine for uninsured, underinsured adults

The Group Health Foundation in partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is expanding the Silence Whooping Cough campaign to educate pregnant women and parents about the risks of whooping cough, or pertussis, and the need to protect themselves and their families.

A recent national survey from the University of Michigan shows that 61 percent of adults do not know when they were last vaccinated against whooping cough.

"Whooping cough is a serious disease that can be fatal for infants and young children who usually catch it from parents, grandparents, older siblings, and caregivers. Adults and teens often experience milder symptoms from whooping cough and are unaware they have it," said Jane Dimer MD, an OB/GYN as well as chief of Women's Health and Maternity Child Clinical Services for Group Health. "Pertussis can be prevented, yet more than 400 cases have been reported in Washington state this year. I urge all parents and caregivers to get the whooping cough booster shot and ensure your kids are up-to-date on their vaccinations."

As part of the Silence Whooping Cough campaign, free immunization clinics for uninsured and underinsured adults will be held from 9 a.m. to noon throughout September at the following locations:

• Group Health Federal Way (301 320th St., Federal Way) on Saturday, Sept. 14

• Group Health Rainer (5316 Rainer Ave. S., Seattle,) on Saturday, Sept. 21

• Sea Mar Downtown (2121 S. 19th St., Tacoma) on Saturday, Sept. 28

The whooping cough or Tdap vaccine is recommended for parents and siblings of young children and caregivers that come into regular contact with young children. A new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to receive the Tdap vaccine between 27-36 weeks of every pregnancy to protect their newborns from the disease.

Infants and children need a series of five DTaP shots between eight weeks and four to six years of age for optimal protection. The protection provided by the childhood whooping cough vaccine series wears off over time, so everyone age 11 and older needs a whooping cough booster vaccine.

Group Health and its public health partners encourage everyone to visit www.silencewhoopingcough.org to learn more about the disease.

For more information about Group Health Foundation and Group Health Cooperative, visit www.ghc.org.

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