Gregoire using crisis cash to curb whooping cough

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Gregoire is reaching into emergency funds to help contain the state's whooping cough epidemic.

Gregoire said Thursday she will make $90,000 in crisis cash available to help strengthen a public awareness campaign about the need for vaccination. The state Department of Health is already looking to spend about $200,000 on the effort.

Gregoire also said the federal government is allowing the state to divert some federal cash toward the purchase of 27,000 doses of the whooping cough vaccine. Those will be available for uninsured residents.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. Health officials say the state is on pace to reach more than 3,000 whooping cough cases for the year.

That's a level that hasn't been seen in decades.