Concord, NH – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Immunization Program (NHIP) recently collaborated with Ammonoosuc Community Health Center and the North Country Health Consortium to vaccinate 314 adults against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. These adults were not eligible to receive the vaccine under the NHIP Adult Vaccine Program, (they had insurance but no access to receive the vaccine) and the providers wanted these individuals to have the opportunity to receive the recommended vaccine to help protect the infants in their lives because they were parents, grandparents, or caregivers.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection which most often affects young children, but anyone can get it. Young infants are particularly at risk because they may be too young to be vaccinated and have less well developed immune systems. Pertussis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms often look like a cold with a nagging cough, asthma, or bronchitis. In New Hampshire, pertussis rates have been increasing. In 2012 there were 252 cases reported to DHHS, compared with 171 in 2011 and 22 in 2010.
The clinic was run as part of an emergency preparedness exercise. This allowed the participants to practice providing vaccines on a large scale while also providing a service to the community. The residents were given the Tdap form of the vaccine at five locations over three days.
"This is a wonderful example of public health at work," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. "Identifying a need, collaborating to meet the need, and protecting the citizens of New Hampshire are all parts of our mission and I commend NHIP and NCHC for this work."
For more information about NHIP visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/immunization/index.htm. To learn more about the vaccination against pertussis visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/pertussis.
This vaccination effort is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week; for more information go to www.nphw.org.