PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is recommending pertussis vaccinations in Coventry after the HEALTH Laboratory confirmed a total of four pertussis (also known as "whooping cough") cases in that community. HEALTH recommends that individuals see their primary care physician to be immunized, or be immunized at the community vaccination clinic scheduled for tomorrow, January 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Coventry High School at 40 Reservoir Road in Coventry. This clinic will offer pertussis (Tdap), influenza, and pneumonia vaccinations.
Three pertussis cases have been confirmed by HEALTH in students who attend the Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School in Coventry and one case has been confirmed in a student who attends Tiogue Elementary School.
"The best protection against pertussis and influenza is vaccination," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "Any child who is not up to date on his or her pertussis vaccination should be vaccinated, and we encourage all unvaccinated 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 Coventry to get vaccinated. It is especially important for the following individuals to be vaccinated:
-Coventry 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 school staff, daycare workers, and healthcare workers -All adults, including those ages 65 and older
Individuals may receive all three of the vaccinations offered during one clinic visit.
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.
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.
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.