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WATSEKA — The Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department is encouraging adults and older children to acquire a vaccination for pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, and has scheduled clinics to administer the vaccination to school-age children and adults:
The clinics are scheduled for 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the health department office in Paxton at 235 N. Taft St. and for 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the health department office in Watseka at 114 N. Third St.
Appointments are not necessary.
Health departments across the nation have seen an increase in the number of pertussis cases in recent months, according to Public Health Administrator Doug Corbett.
“Despite the effectiveness of vaccination for children, pertussis continues to occur in the United States among all age groups,” Corbett said.
Pertussis is caused by a bacterium known as Bordetella pertussis, which lives in the mouth, nose and throat.
“The germ is highly contagious and is easily spread from person-to person through coughing and sneezing,” Corbett said.
Anyone who has not had pertussis previously or who has not received the pertussis vaccine can get the disease, according to Dee Ann Schippert, community and school health coordinator for the health department.
She added that immunity following the disease or a vaccination is not lifelong. Schippert said older children, adolescents and adults can become susceptible to pertussis five to 10 years after their last dose of pertussis vaccine. She said older children and adults can carry the germ and spread it even though their cold-like symptoms may be so mild they might not seek medical care.
“In fact, Illinois has new requirements for the 2012-2013 school year mandating that all students entering sixth and ninth grades receive one dose of Tdap,” she said.
Pertussis can be prevented. Children generally receive the pertussis vaccination at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months of age and another dose at 4 to 6 years of age. The vaccination is given in the same shot with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. Parents would most commonly hear this called the Tdap vaccination. It is an immunization that is required for school and some child care attendance.
Schippert said although most people do recover from pertussis, complication of the illness can be severe.
“Pertussis can be a critical illness in children younger than 1 year of age, especially for premature babies or those with lung disease,” she said.
Complications may include ear infections, loss of appetite and dehydration. In some cases, complications affecting the brain, such as convulsions and inflammation may occur, especially in infants, and can have long-term effects or cause death.
Schippert said for these reasons, persons who are around children younger than 1 year of age are strongly encouraged to receive the immunization for pertussis.