Free whooping cough vaccination clinic offered for uninsured

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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The Free Clinic of Southwest Washington will hold a free whooping cough immunization clinic later this month for uninsured adults.

The clinic will administer 500 tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis boosters, commonly referred to as Tdap. The vaccines will be available first-come, first-served to uninsured, low-income adults.

The free vaccine clinic is aimed at day care workers and other adults who are in contact with young children, said Patrick Callahan, clinic director.

The clinic will begin at 5 p.m. May 23 at the Free Clinic, 4100 Plomondon St., in Vancouver.

Typically, the Free Clinic does not provide adult immunizations. But due to the statewide whooping cough epidemic, the clinic organized the upcoming effort, Callahan said.

Since Jan. 1, Washington state health officials have reported 1,284 cases of whooping cough. During the same 18-week period in 2011, the state reported 128 cases. In Clark County, 104 cases have been reported since the start of the year, according to health officials.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is an illness spread through respiratory secretions such as coughing and sneezing. The illness is particularly dangerous, and potentially deadly, for infants, who can develop serious complications such as pneumonia and brain inflammation.

The state recommends children receive five doses of the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine, commonly known as DTaP, before age 7. Adolescents (ages 11 to 18) and adults (ages 19 to 64) should receive a Tdap booster, according to state recommendations.

Whooping cough vaccines, and all state recommended vaccines, are offered at no cost to children younger than 19 through health care provider offices participating in the state’s Childhood Vaccine Program. Providers may charge an office fee for the visit.

The Free Clinic offers child immunization clinics at 5 p.m. on the first, second and third Wednesdays of every month. The clinic will not provide whooping cough vaccines to children at the May 23 event.

For more information about the upcoming adult immunization clinic, call 360-313-1390.