Free Whooping Cough vaccines offered this week in Franklin County

Whooping Cough

Franklin County, Pa. – The Pennsylvania State Department of Health will continue to offer free vaccines to residents in the Franklin County area this week, after more confirmed cases of pertussis are identified.

Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy announced Monday the department is offering appointments for free tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines November 29 through December 1 at the Franklin County State Health Center, 375 Floral Ave., Suite 1 in Chambersburg.

Appointments are available from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on November 29, and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, November 30 and December 1.

Residents can call 1-877-PA-HEALTH to schedule an appointment.

“Vaccination is the safest and easiest way to help stop the spread of pertussis, or whooping cough,” said Secretary Murphy. “Since residents are still being diagnosed with whooping cough, the Department of Health wants to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the vaccine.”

To date, 84 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in the Chambersburg/Shippensburg areas of Cumberland and Franklin counties. The Department of Health vaccinated nearly 1,300 residents recently at five clinics.

The pertussis vaccine is recommended for children to enter school. Because immunity from the vaccine fades over time, most adolescents and adults are susceptible to the disease. In addition to the typical childhood series of pertussis immunizations at 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months, and a booster at 4-6 years, the department recommends the adolescent-adult pertussis vaccine, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, booster for:

  • Individuals 10-64 years of age who are not fully immunized;
  • Pregnant women during each pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. Women who have never received Tdap and who do not receive it during pregnancy should receive it immediately postpartum;
  • People who have contact with pregnant women or infants too young to have received a full series of vaccinations; and
  • All family members and caregivers of infants who are not old enough to get vaccinated against pertussis.

Pertussis is an infection of the respiratory system and is characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold including runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and low-grade fever. After about one to two weeks, the dry, irritating cough evolves into coughing spells that can last for more than one minute and can lead to vomiting.

For more information, visit www.vaccinesforlife.com or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.