Occupy Medical will be partnering with Lane County’s Department of Health and Human Services once again to provide Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccines to uninsured adults (aged 19 and up) free of charge. The vaccines will be administered at the May 5th clinic, located at the Park Blocks, between the hours of 12:30pm and 3:30pm.
Throughout the country, we are seeing a startling resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough). This is due to its high communicability (more contagious than the flu) combined with very low rates of adults receiving booster shots (8%). Last spring, our neighbors in Washington saw the highest rates of pertussis since 1942, an epidemic with 4,783 reported cases throughout the State. Although Oregon didn’t suffer to that magnitude, we did see our rates nearly triple from 320 cases in 2011 to 909 cases last year.
The Tdap vaccine should be administered once to adults who did not receive a booster shot as an adolescent. This vaccine became available in 2005 and is different from a Td (tetanus) shot. Those who are in close contact with infants are especially urged to get vaccinated, as the vast majority of deaths from the disease occur in unvaccinated infants. As such, Tdap is also recommended once per pregnancy for women in their 27th – 36th week of gestation in order to maximize the number of antibodies passed to the baby.
Getting vaccinated for pertussis not only protects oneself from contracting the disease, it also prevents the spread of the disease to the larger community through a phenomenon known as “herd immunity”. Our hopes are that with the help of the Department of Health and Human Services, we will be able to get as many people vaccinated as possible. If we all work together, we can prevent a major pertussis outbreak in Lane County.