PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is recommending pertussis vaccinations in North Kingstown after the HEALTH Laboratory confirmed a total of six pertussis (also known as "whooping cough") cases in that community. HEALTH recommends that individuals see their primary care physician to be immunized, and will also hold two community vaccination clinics in North Kingstown in conjunction with town and school officials.
Six pertussis cases have been confirmed by HEALTH in students who attend Stony Lane Elementary School (four cases), Davisville Middle School (one case), and Hamilton Elementary School (one case). The school district closed for the summer on June 19, and the first case was confirmed by HEALTH on July 2.
In conjunction with town and school officials from North Kingstown and Jamestown, HEALTH will hold two pertussis vaccination clinics for the public on Thursday, July 19, and Monday, July 23, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the North Kingstown High School cafeteria, 150 Fairway Drive, North Kingstown. Individuals do not have to live in North Kingstown or Jamestown to be vaccinated.
"Anyone with symptoms of pertussis should see his or her healthcare provider for evaluation, testing and treatment," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "The best protection against pertussis is vaccination. Any child who is not up to date on his or her pertussis vaccination should be vaccinated, and we encourage all adults to get a Tdap vaccine as well."
Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HEALTH encourages anyone age 10 or older who has not previously received a Tdap vaccine and lives in North Kingstown or Jamestown to get vaccinated. It is especially important for the following individuals to be vaccinated:
- North Kingstown and Jamestown students ages 10 and older who need to receive Tdap (This will meet the Grade 7 vaccination requirement) - Pregnant women and anyone in their household (Pregnant women should be at least 20 weeks into the gestation period) - Anyone in close contact with or caring for an infant less than one year old - Anyone with a weakened immune system or other chronic disease (such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) and anyone in their household - Professionals, including summer camp staff, school staff, daycare workers, and healthcare workers All adults, including those ages 65 and older
Children less than 10 years old who are not up to date in their five-dose series of DTaP should be vaccinated at their healthcare provider's office.
Those who have health insurance should bring their health insurance card to the clinic. Those who are uninsured will be vaccinated at no cost to the individual.
HEALTH staff have worked closely with school officials to identify symptomatic students, identify close contacts at home and at school who may need antibiotic prophylaxis, assess student immunization coverage rates, and consult with the CDC on recommended next steps. Advisories have been sent to all licensed providers statewide and monitoring is ongoing.
Pertussis typically begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which becomes much worse over one to two weeks. Symptoms of pertussis include cough lasting more than two weeks, a long series of coughs that may be accompanied by a whooping sound (although not all patients make the whooping sound), short periods without breathing, turning blue, difficulty catching the breath, and gagging or vomiting after coughing spells. Fever may also be present. The cough is often worse at night and is not alleviated by cough medicines.
Infants less than one year of age, especially those less than six months old, are most likely to experience severe pertussis illness. Young infants should be kept away from anyone with a cough, and infants with a cough illness should be seen by a doctor right away.
Caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs, pertussis is highly contagious and vaccine-preventable. Those with suspected or confirmed diagnoses of pertussis should stay out of work, school, or childcare until they have been on antibiotics for at least five days.
HEALTH receives reports of about 60 cases of pertussis each year.
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