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  • As whooping cough cases rise, free vaccinations offered for kids

    After a health department warning this week that whooping cough is on the rise in Pierce County, it's a good time to take advantage of free vaccinations for children and teens, and for anyone caring for infants younger than 1.

    Of the 18 pertussis cases reported in July in Pierce County, 15 were diagnosed through labs at MultiCare Health System. The ages of the patients ranged from 29 days to 62 years. Of those cases, one child was admitted and treated. The others were treated in Emergency Departments or clinics.

    “People might not be aware that pertussis is not an illness that affects only children,” Susan Gustafson, RN and Infection Preventionist, said Friday at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. “Even people who have been fully vaccinated, they’re not protected forever. It’s estimated that by the time kids graduate from high school, they’re no longer protected by their childhood vaccinations. So everyone really should be re-vaccinated with the adult pertussis vaccine, even if they have had it in the past.”

    MultiCare Mobile Health Services, based in Puyallup, offers vaccinations throughout Pierce County and provides free immunizations to all children from birth through 18 years of age (a $15.60 administration fee per vaccine can be billed to insurance, or can be reduced for those without insurance). No child will be denied vaccine based on ability to pay the fee. Call 253-697-4010 or visit the MultiCare Mobile Health Services website.

    Additionally, The MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center Mobile Immunization Clinic travels throughout Pierce County and provides all back-to-school immunizations recommended by the CDC, including whooping cough vaccines that are free for children and for anyone caring for infants younger than 1. There are no fees and no insurance co-pays. Call 253-792-6630 to make an appointment, or find a walk-in clinic at the Mobile Immunization Clinic's website.

    Summer is the perfect time to get a jumpstart on childhood vaccinations required by the state before schools starts again this fall. Children are due for a series of immunizations between the ages of 4 and 6, and again at between the ages of 11 and 12.

    “The most important thing to understand is that there are risks to not immunizing your child -- there’s a real danger,” said Carolyn Cook, RN, who provides free childhood vaccinations through the MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center Mobile Immunization Clinic. “ I recommend that all children be immunized against all 14 serious diseases that the CDC recommends.”

    For teens younger than 19 who are about to head off to college this fall, the CDC now recommends a second dose of meningitis vaccine. Additionally, the vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus) is available for both girls and boys. These vaccines are also free of charge.

    “Vaccine recommendations change quickly based on new recommendations that we have,” Cook said. “So if your last shots were five years ago, the recommended vaccination schedule might have changed since then. So it’s a good idea to get updated.”

    Posted on Aug 5, 2011 in