Whooping cough outbreak prompts vaccine clinic

HENDERSON COUNTY, NC (WSPA) – Health officials in Henderson County are trying to tackle a pertussis outbreak, also known as whooping cough. As of Thursday, there are 56 cases. That’s up from the eight cases we first told you about less than a month ago.

They said it’s not surprising that the number of cases have gone up because the illness is so contagious.

“We really want anybody who is needing the vaccine to have the opportunity to be able to get it,” said Henderson County Department of Public Health Registered Nurse Andrea Detwiler. “The TDaP vaccine boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis – or whooping cough.”

She said almost two dozen people used their vaccination clinic Thursday.

“It helps people be current on the vaccine so that they’re less likely to get it,” she said.

She said it is still possible for people to get pertussis, but the symptoms may be less severe.

“Because of them being less symptomatic, meaning less coughing, they’re also less likely to be transmitting it as much to others,” said Detwiler.

Health Director Steven Smith said some of the 56 cases so far are people who’ve been vaccinated.

Detwiler said they’re most concerned about people in high risk groups.

“Any infants under a year old – they can have very serious complications even as severe as death,” said Detwiler.

Doctors recommend a child get five doses of the D-TaP shot for best protection before the turn six starting at two months old.     

“I think the infants should be vaccinated against this,” said Henderson County parent Carolyn Ray.

The other vaccine, called TDaP, offered by the health department is for everyone 11 years and older,  including pregnant women and adults who have not had this vaccine dose.

“Come on by. Talk to somebody to get more information about it. We are here to answer any concerns that anyone has about the vaccines,” said Detwiler.

That clinic next week is from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the health department.

They say it can be available for some people at no cost if they meet certain criteria.