DOH offers free whooping cough vaccination on Wednesday

BURLINGTON - Free whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine will be available tomorrow to anyone age 11 and older at 12 Health Department district offices around the state - in an effort to slow the spread of the illness, and protect those at greatest risk for life-threatening illness.

The clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

The Brattleboro office is located at 178 Linden Lodge, Fourth Floor. 802-257-2880.

The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) is now 568 in Vermont, up 46 cases since last week.

"We're asking everyone age 11 and older to make sure they are vaccinated," said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. "This is especially important for pregnant women and everyone who may be around babies. We have had no deaths from whooping cough for the past 20 years and we want to keep it that way."

Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial respiratory disease that is easily spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing or even talking with others.

Whooping cough vaccines are recommended for all children and adults. There is no age limit for getting the vaccine. It's recommended for people age 65 and older, too. The Health Department strongly recommends that expectant mothers get vaccinated later in pregnancy, not only to protect themselves, but also to pass protection on to their newborns.

Whooping cough infection is very often difficult to recognize in its early stages as it usually begins with cold-like symptoms. People who get whooping cough may develop a severe cough or coughing fit, sometimes followed by whooping, gagging or vomiting that can last for weeks. Whooping cough or pertussis is also referred to as the "100 day cough." Infants may have less typical symptoms such as gagging or difficulty breathing.

While fully immunized people can get whooping cough, their illness is usually less severe and less likely to be passed on to others.

For questions about pertussis and the clinics dial 2-1-1.

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