Whooping cough immunization program begins June 21
June 18, 2012
LETHBRIDGE - To address an ongoing whooping cough (Pertussis) outbreak in southern Alberta, Alberta Health Services is holding a series of immunization clinics – beginning June 21 – in Fort Macleod, Picture Butte, Coaldale, Raymond, Taber, Vauxhall and Bow Island.
For clinic locations, dates/times in these communities, please see the second page of this news release.
“This is a serious public health issue, and we cannot stress enough the importance of immunization,” says Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Medical Officer of Health – South Zone. “Because infants are especially vulnerable to this outbreak, we are targeting these clinics for the parents and caregivers of infants less than one year of age.”
Caregivers could include anyone who provides direct care: grandparents, nannies, and staff from child care facilities (daycare centres and family day homes). Infants are not being immunized at the clinics.
The goal is to create a ‘cocoon’ of vaccinated people around the newborn, says Dr. Suttorp. “By vaccinating the parents and caregivers with a Pertussis booster, there is a decreased risk to the child contracting the disease from the people close to them.”
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that causes severe coughing that may last for months. A person can have whooping cough for up to three weeks before showing symptoms.
This ongoing outbreak has infected 36 southern Albertan residents in the past six months, most recently affecting two infants and two toddlers who have required hospitalization to treat the illness.
AHS is also contacting new parents to advise them of the opportunity to immunize infants earlier.
Children less than two months old will be immunized as early as six weeks of age to ensure the most vulnerable infants are protected from Pertussis and possible complications. Boosters will be provided at 10 and 14 weeks. Children who have already started receiving immunizations will see no change in their current immunization schedule.
“New parents will be offered Pertussis vaccine prior to discharge from hospital,” says Dr. Suttorp. “We will be encouraging immunization of children who have not received their age appropriate vaccines.”
In Alberta, immunization against pertussis is available, free of charge, through the routine childhood immunization program. Individuals must complete the full immunization schedule to be considered protected.
“Immunization is the key to preventing infection; it can also reduce the severity of illness should further outbreaks occur,” says Dr. Suttorp.
Immunization clinics have been scheduled in communities with reported cases of Pertussis and lower rates of immunization, as follows:
- Fort Macleod Community Health, 744 26 Street, 403-553-5351
- June 25 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- June 27 – 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Picture Butte Community Health, 301A Rogers Avenue, 403-388-6751
- June 21 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- June 28 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Coaldale Community Health, 2012 18 Street, 403-345-2043
- June 25 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- July 4 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Raymond Community Health, 200 West 200 North, 403-752-5430
- June 27 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- July 5 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Taber Community Health, 5009 56 Street, 403-223-4403
- June 21 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- June 25 – 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- July 4 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Vauxhall Community Health, 406 1 Avenue N., 403-223-7229 ext. 2758
- June 26 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- July 3 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Bow Island Community Health, (Provincial Building) 802 6 Street E., 403-545-2296
- June 26 – 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- June 29 – 9 a.m. to noon
Anyone who suspects they, or a family member, may be sick with Pertussis should stay at home and call a family physician or Health Link Alberta, toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465), before seeking medical care.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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