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Free Whooping Cough vaccinations being offered in Cumberland and Franklin counties

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HARRISBURG, Pa.--Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy  announced Thursday the department will provide free tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines to residents in the Chambersburg/Shippensburg areas of Cumberland and Franklin counties because of a localized rise in cases of pertussis (whooping cough). To date, 29 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in the area.

The Tdap clinic will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Friday, November 11, at Chambersburg Area Senior High School, 511 S. 6th St., Chambersburg.

“If you haven’t received the Tdap vaccine, are over 10 years old, or pregnant, we recommend that you get vaccinated against whooping cough,” Secretary Murphy said. “If you are unsure if you have ever received the Tdap vaccine, please check with your medical provider. If you received a previous Tdap vaccine, you do not need another one. Pertussis, which is a preventable disease, is especially dangerous for infants who are not old enough to get vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to get your vaccination.”

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.

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.