State: More adults get whooping cough vaccine amid epidemic
June 6, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 a.m. June 6, 2012
The ongoing whooping cough epidemic in Washington is driving increased demand for the vaccine among adults, state health officials reported Tuesday.
Between March 25 and May 26, the state immunization registry recorded 82,453 doses of Tdap, as the whooping cough vaccine is called, for adults age 19 and older — more than double the 34,171 doses recorded in the same time period last year.
Data from health plans also shows the uptick. Group Health gave almost 60 percent more Tdap to adults in April 2012 compared to April 2011. Premera Blue Cross is experiencing a similar trend. Tdap vaccinations in April 2012 rose by more than 70 percent for members compared to the average month.
“Adults in Washington are doing their part by getting the whooping cough booster, called Tdap,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “The increase in adult vaccination is vital to protecting babies who are the most vulnerable because they’re too young to be fully vaccinated. Thank you to everyone who’s gotten vaccinated, and I want others to follow their example.”
The number of reported whooping cough, or pertussis, cases in Washington is 2,092 — the highest since the 1940s.
Pertussis is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The disease is most serious for infants, especially children too young to receive the vaccination. Pertussis causes cold-like systems followed by a long, severe cough.
“We’re asking everyone to double-check with their health care provider to make sure they’re up-to-date on vaccinations,” Selecky said. “Our reported case count has climbed above 2,000 already with half of the year to go. It’s vital that teens and adults get the Tdap booster.”
The state Department of Health bought more than 27,000 doses of Tdap for uninsured and underinsured adults to remove a cost barrier.