HARRISBURG, Pa. – In an effort to ensure the community is protected, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy announced the department is offering free tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, Tuesday, November 22, at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, 511 S. 6th St., Chambersburg, because of a localized outbreak of pertussis.
“Since residents are still testing positive for pertussis, we want to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the vaccine,” said Secretary Murphy. “Getting a Tdap vaccine is the most effective and easiest way to prevent pertussis and protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated against this extremely contagious disease. The best way to protect your loved ones this holiday season is to get vaccinated.”
To date, 61 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in the Chambersburg/Shippensburg areas of Cumberland and Franklin counties. The Department of Health vaccinated more than 1,100 people at four clinics conducted recently in the affected areas. Tdap vaccines are also available from health care providers and are often covered by insurance.
The pertussis vaccine is recommended for children to enter school. Because immunity from the vaccine fades over time, most adolescents and adults are susceptible to the disease. In addition to the typical childhood series of pertussis immunizations at 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months, and a booster at 4-6 years, the department recommends the adolescent-adult pertussis vaccine, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, booster for:
- Individuals 10-64 years of age who are not fully immunized;
- Pregnant women during each pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. Women who have never received Tdap and who do not receive it during pregnancy should receive it immediately postpartum;
- People who have contact with pregnant women or infants too young to have received a full series of vaccinations; and
- All family members and caregivers of infants who are not old enough to get vaccinated against pertussis.
Pertussis is an infection of the respiratory system and is characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold including runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and low-grade fever. After about one to two weeks, the dry, irritating cough evolves into coughing spells that can last for more than one minute and can lead to vomiting.
For more information, visit www.vaccinesforlife.com or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.