MASON COUNTY — Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a contagious illness caused by bacteria.
It occurs in children more often than in adults, but adults with milder, undiagnosed symptoms can transmit the disease to infants and children. Pertussis is usually spread by contact with an infected person’s nose or throat secretions. This can happen by touching an infected person’s nose or throat drainage, or it can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Antibiotics are given to make the illness less contagious, but they do not reduce the symptoms unless given very early in the illness. The West Virginia Infectious Disease Division reports less than 100 confirmed cases statewide in 2011. Other states in the United States have reported higher numbers and outbreaks. Due to an increase in pertussis (whooping cough) cases over the last several years, it is now available that the tetanus booster also contain pertussis and it is recommended to be given at the age of 11-12 or through the age of 18. Parents and grandparents of newborns are recommended to receive the pertussis booster as well. The pertussis booster is given along with the tetanus booster and is commonly referred to as Tdap. The Tdap is one of the required vaccines required for school entry of 7th and 12th grade students this fall.
The Mason County Health Department offers vaccine free of charge for those who are eligible for the Vaccine For Children (VFC) program provided through the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. To be eligible for this program you must be between the ages of birth to 18 years of age and either be enrolled in Medicaid, have no health insurance or have a health insurance but it does not cover immunizations or be Native American or Alaskan Native. Adults can receive the Tdap booster free of charge at the Mason County Health Department.
Vaccines are normally given every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. except the second Thursday of the month, but please call the health department at 675-3050 for the hours as well.
Information for this article provided by the staff of the Mason County Health Department.