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HEALTH Applauds Municipalities for Preparedness Drills and for Protecting Rhode Islanders Against Pertussis

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) applauded municipalities throughout the state today for continuing to provide adults and older children with unique opportunities to get shots that protect against pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

HEALTH scheduled clinics with 21 cities and towns throughout Rhode Island in February and March to test their preparedness plans as well as to protect anyone who many need a Tdap shot. In addition to pertussis, Tdap protects against tetanus and diphtheria. All adults (except pregnant women who have not yet reached the 20th weeks of their pregnancies) who have never received Tdap are invited to participate. There is no residency requirement for the clinics and health insurance is not required, although anyone who is insured is asked to bring his or her insurance card. Flu vaccine will also be available for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the flu.

"Cities and towns should be commended for taking these important steps now to make sure they're ready, should they ever have to respond to a public health threat. They are also protecting residents against pertussis, which can be a dangerous disease, especially for babies who are too young for the vaccine," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "The majority of babies with pertussis get it from an adult who was not vaccinated. Tdap vaccine has only been available since 2005 so many adults have not been received it. The best way to protect yourself, your child, grandchild, or any other infant in your life is to get a Tdap shot, either at a doctor's office or at a clinic."

HEALTH receives reports of approximately 60 cases of pertussis each year.

In addition to anyone who is in close contact with a baby, it is particularly important that individuals with weakened immune systems to get Tdap shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a single dose of Tdap for people 11 years of age and older because immunity from early childhood pertussis vaccinations wanes by late childhood. In Rhode Island, Tdap is required for seventh graders. Students who participate in the clinic will meet a vaccination requirement for seventh grade enrollment.

For more information about pertussis or to find a vaccination clinic near you, visit www.health.ri.gov/pertussisclinics.php or call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 02-22-2012

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