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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — With at least a dozen states reporting confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, during the first three weeks of January, MinuteClinic is urging parents and guardians to obtain a DTaP shot (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) for unvaccinated children under 7 years old. Booster shots, known as Tdap, also are encouraged for all pre-teens, teens and adults.
"We have seen a reemergence of whooping cough in recent years and in many cases infants and children are infected by parents, siblings, other family members and caregivers who don't realize they have the disease," stated Nancy Gagliano, MinuteClinic chief medical officer. "Our practitioners at MinuteClinic can help educate parents and other adults about appropriate immunization schedules for their children and themselves to prevent spreading the illness."
Pertussis is known as whooping cough due to the "whooping" sound that is made when gasping for air. The disease can result in hospitalization, particularly among infants. There are about 300,000 pertussis-related deaths worldwide per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
News reports of confirmed pertussis cases among children in 2012 have occurred in a number of states where MinuteClinic medical clinics offer pertussis vaccinations, including New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
A vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis, according to the CDC. Both DTaP and Tdap vaccinations are available without appointment for those 18 months and above at 600-plus MinuteClinic medical clinics inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
The recommended pertussis vaccination for infants and children is DTaP, a combination vaccine that also protects against diphtheria and tetanus and is given four times in infant/early childhood years and a fifth time before a child enters school between ages 4 and 6 years.
Vaccine protection fades over time, so a Tdap booster shot, which also protects against all three diseases, is recommended for pre-teens at ages 11 or 12 years and for adults who did not get a Tdap vaccine as a preteen or teen. Children ages 7 to 10 years with an incomplete vaccination history against pertussis should also get a Tdap shot. Tdap vaccinations are particularly recommended for pregnant women, family members with newborn infants, grandparents, healthcare workers and child care providers.
DTaP vaccinations at MinuteClinic are $82 while Tdap vaccinations are $79. The vaccines typically are covered by insurance.