The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced the pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak in Barrington has officially ended, but reminded the public that a nationwide resurgence in the contagious disease should serve as a warning for all children and adults to get up-to-date on their vaccinations.
February 27 marked the last date of the pertussis outbreak in Barrington. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declares a pertussis outbreak over when 42 days have passed since the last illness onset date. HEALTH received its first report of a Barrington pertussis case on December 22. Since that time, 29 pertussis cases have been confirmed in Barrington, with most cases reported at two Barrington schools among Grade 4 and 5 students. HEALTH worked closely with the Barrington School Department to identify potentially exposed children and others to prescribe medications that can prevent severe illness and stop the spread of infection. HEALTH also worked closely with the local town and school officials to hold pertussis vaccination clinics on Jan.12 and 13.
"Vaccination remains the best defense, but just as we saw in Barrington, early childhood immunity drops off and leaves all older children and adults unprotected against pertussis," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "Thanks to the schools and town officials, Barrington boosted its community immunity by 1,088 pertussis vaccinations and became a model for other Rhode Island communities to follow."
HEALTH receives reports of approximately 60 cases of pertussis each year. The number of cases in Rhode Island is consistent with the resurgence of pertussis being observed regionally and nationally.
Municipalities throughout Rhode Island are holding pertussis vaccination clinics in February and March to test their preparedness plans as well as to protect anyone who many need a Tdap shot.
Pertussis vaccinations are typically given during early childhood, but immunity often wanes by later childhood. The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccination was introduced in 2005 to boost immunity for children 11 years of age or older, as well as adults. Anyone who is likely to be in close contact with a baby (this includes pregnant women in the third trimester) and individuals with weakened immune systems are strongly encouraged to get a Tdap shot.
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.