THUNDER BAY, ON --- September 16, 2012 - With 4 confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported in the District since August, the Health Unit is reminding the public of the importance that they and their children are fully immunized against this contagious infection.
The pertussis vaccine is available to infants, children, teens and adults at no-charge, as part of Ontario’s publicly funded program.
Public health is stressing the importance of adults between ages 19 to 64 getting a pertussis booster since recent outbreaks across North America, including southern Ontario, have been linked to adults passing the disease onto children. This extra dose is highly recommended for adults who are in regular contact with children, including parents, babysitters, day care workers, teachers and health care providers. Being vaccinated against the disease protects the individual but also helps to prevent the spread of the infection to children and infants who are at a higher risk for severe symptoms.
Symptoms of pertussis are initially mild but can become severe. Severe symptoms include extreme coughing fits that make it difficult to eat, drink or breathe. This coughing can cause an infant or child to vomit or stop breathing for a short period of time. Infants with pertussis are at a greater risk of serious complications which include pneumonia, brain damage and seizures.
Because the infection is easily spread through coughing or sneezing, it is important to cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue and to put all used tissues in the garbage, or to cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Regular hand washing with soap and water is also highly recommended.
To receive the immunization from the Health Unit’s weekly immunization clinic, call for an appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 625-8346.
If you are not sure if you or your family members are fully immunized, you may speak to a public health nurse by calling the Health Unit at 625-5971 or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630, ext 5971. The Health Unit only has records of the vaccines provided by the Health Unit, so if vaccinations were received at other health care provider offices, the Health Unit will not have this information unless it was reported to the Health Unit by the individual, a parent or a legal guardian.