The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) will exercise its public health preparedness plans with several cities and towns by opening public vaccination clinics. Vaccinations against pertussis (whooping cough), seasonal influenza, and pneumonia will be offered at cities and towns throughout Rhode Island, with the first clinic beginning tomorrow, November 10.
"I encourage all Rhode Islanders to see their primary care physician for the vaccinations they need," said Michael Fine, MD, director of HEALTH. "But these public clinics are a great opportunity for those who may not have a primary care doctor to catch up on their vaccinations, as well as for our cities and towns to test their ability to run a public vaccination clinic."
While there is no current outbreak of any illness in the state, a vaccinated public is the best way to prevent the spread of emerging illnesses.
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine prevents pertussis. Pertussis is a contagious disease that can cause illness and sometimes death, especially in infants. Everyone over the age of 11 should receive this vaccine at least once in their lifetime. Infants especially are at high risk for hospitalization and severe illness so anyone who is in close contact with an infant should get a Tdap shot. Additionally, a booster dose of Tdap is required for students before they enter seventh grade. Students who participate in the clinic will meet a vaccination requirement for seventh grade enrollment. Pregnant women must be at least 20 weeks into their pregnancy to receive Tdap vaccine.
Influenza vaccine will help people avoid the flu this year. Seasonal flu is dangerous to the very young and the elderly. The flu hits Rhode Island hardest in January and February every year. Everyone aged six months and older can receive a flu shot.
Pneumococcal vaccine prevents pneumonia and is recommended for adults 65 years and older, and for adults 19 years and older with chronic illness (such as heart and lung disease), and especially smokers and people with asthma.
There is no out-of pocket cost for any of the vaccinations and health insurance is not a requirement. Anyone who is insured should bring his or her insurance card. Tdap, influenza, and pneumococcal vaccinations continue to be available at primary care physician practices.
For more information about pertussis or to find a vaccination clinic near you, visit www.health.ri.gov/immunization or call the Health Information Line at 401-222-5960 / RI Relay 711.