FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

North Carolina health department recommends pertussis vaccines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommended on Monday that people of all ages receive vaccinations against pertussis after continued outbreaks of the potentially deadly disease.

As of August 14, state health officials reported 326 cases of pertussis, including 50 cases in infants. Infants who are not completely immunized against pertussis are susceptible to severe complications.

"State law requires that kindergartners and all rising 6th graders be up to date on pertussis vaccination before going to school," Robin Cummings, the acting state health director, said. "But as parents are getting their children ready to go back to school, it is also a good opportunity for parents to check on immunizations for the whole family. Any adults or older siblings, especially those who will be around newborns, should be vaccinated against pertussis."

Because of large numbers of pertussis cases in Rockingham, Forsyth and Davidson counties, the DHHS authorized local health departments in the three counties to provide the pertussis vaccine at no charge.

Pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough, causes hospitalizations in approximately half of all infants under the age of one who get the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the hospitalized infants, one or two out of 100 will die.

The DHHS recommends Tdap vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, anyone with chronic respiratory or any pre-existing disease, all close contacts of infants under 12 months of age and healthcare providers.