More Vaccinations Needed to Slow Spokane’s Whooping Cough Epidemic, Case Count Surpasses 100
SPOKANE, Wash. – July 19, 2012 – Spokane’s whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic passed 100 cases this week, just as new numbers indicate that only 25 percent of the state’s local allocation of low-cost vaccine has been administered.
Over the past two months, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) received almost 2,000 doses of state-donated whooping cough vaccine. The health district distributed the majority of the vaccine to several local providers and pharmacies to administer, yet uptake has been relatively slow. To their credit, between the three locations where it offers the low-cost vaccine, CHAS has administered approximately 100 doses; SRHD also administered over 250 doses. The county is still far below the rates needed to achieve immunity though.
To date in 2012, there are 106 cases locally—including those that are confirmed, as well as those under investigation—compared to just six cases during the same period last year. Washington’s whooping cough epidemic passed 3,000 reported cases this week.
“I worry that the slow uptake we’re seeing is a reflection of our community questioning if they need really need the shot or not,” said SRHD health officer Dr. Joel McCullough. “Vaccination remains the best tool we have to protect ourselves and others from the disease, especially babies, who most often catch the illness from an adolescent or adult. We’re fortunate a baby hasn’t died in our state yet this year. I’m hoping that is not what it takes to get people to realize how important it is they get vaccinated.”
Clinics and pharmacies may charge a fee up to $15.60 to give the state-supplied vaccine, but financial assistance is available for those who cannot pay. Click here to see a list of locations. There is still sufficient supply of state-donated vaccine in Spokane County.
For residents whose insurance covers whooping cough shots, vaccinations are available at locations throughout Spokane County including health care provider offices, local pharmacies and the SRHD Public Health Clinic. Click here to see a list of locations offering the vaccine that also bill insurance.
In a release issued today by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the state agency echoed the health district’s guidance that more residents seek vaccination. DOH staff state that it coincides with new research indicating vaccine protection doesn’t last as long as expected. The fact that the protection wears off sooner than was previously thought is among the reasons that most cases in Washington are in school age children who are vaccinated.
“Whooping cough vaccines work but don’t seem to last as long as was expected,” said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. “Even so, vaccinated people who get whooping cough have milder symptoms, shorter illnesses, and are less likely to spread the disease to others. Our biggest concern is keeping babies from getting sick – and vaccination is still the best protection.”
For more information about whooping cough and where to get vaccine, visit srhd.org/whoopingcough. More information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.