Low-cost vaccine available for adults; epidemic continues in Snohomish County

Snohomish Health District reaches out to all county residents to immunize against pertussis to protect babies
May 09, 2012

In an effort to slow the spread of whooping cough in Snohomish County, the Snohomish Health District has launched a two-fold campaign to increase vaccinations that prevent the highly contagious disease. Whooping cough – also called pertussis -- sickens babies most severely because they have no immunity. Adults need a booster shot because the childhood vaccine wears off over time.

“We are taking a community-wide approach to slowing down this epidemic,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Health District. “Building immunity in the adult population of our county will protect the most vulnerable among us – infants.”

First, the Health District is placing whooping cough vaccine in retail pharmacies to dispense to low-income, uninsured adults throughout the county. The 15 participating pharmacies will not charge for the cost of the vaccine but may charge a fee up to $15.60 for giving the shot.

• Arlington Pharmacy – 540 West Ave

Bartell Drugs pharmacies:

• Bothell, 22833 Bothell-Everett Highway and 18001 Bothell-Everett Highway.

• Edmonds, 23028 100th Ave. W.

• Everett, 5006 132nd St. S.E., Bldg A

• Lake Stevens, 621 SR-9 N.E.

• Lynnwood, 17633 Hwy 99 and 3625 148th St. S.W., Suite B

• Snohomish, 1115 13th St.

• Stanwood, 7205 267th St. N.W.

QFC pharmacies:

• Edmonds, 22828 100th Ave. W.

• Everett, 4919 Evergreen Way and 2615 Broadway

• Mill Creek, 926 164th St. S.E.

• Stanwood, 27008 92nd Ave. N.W.

Second, to promote the free vaccine, the Health District campaign has developed a special coupon for participants of the Women, Infants, Children nutrition program to give to family and friends who may come into contact with their babies.

The coupon encourages low-income, uninsured adults to visit a Snohomish Health District Clinic or participating pharmacy for the free vaccination. An administration fee of up to $15.60 may apply.

The coupon will also be distributed by other organizations that work with low-income populations. If you lose or forget your coupon, you still can get a free shot at a participating pharmacy if you meet the income requirements.

Other low-cost vaccinators are listed on the Health District’s site at www.snohd.org. Some may charge for the cost of the vaccine and an administration fee, but can discount the cost according to federal guidelines for income level.

For example, Community Health Center of Snohomish County (CHC) charges an administration fee and part of the cost of the vaccine. However, people whose income falls below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level can receive a discount at CHC by filling out their Discounted Fee application.

Whooping cough – also called pertussis -- has been at an epidemic rate in Snohomish County since last summer, and the state Department of Health recently declared a statewide epidemic.

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced on May 3 that new supplies of pertussis vaccine would be available to all counties.

Snohomish County will begin receiving its first allocation of vaccine in the next two weeks, and intends to distribute it through the volunteer pharmacy system.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is harbored and spread by adults and children and is particularly harmful to infants, who have no immunity.

Children and adults become sick enough to miss school and work for several days and up to two weeks, and the cough can persist for many weeks. All adults and teens need to get a whooping cough booster shot known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) – because immunity from childhood vaccine wears off over time.

People of all ages need booster shots to maintain their immunity, and most adults aren’t up to date on their shots.

As of May 4, Snohomish Health District has confirmed 270 reports of whooping cough in 2012, although most cases go unreported, especially in adults.

Letters notifying parents that their children may have been exposed to the disease have gone out to elementary, middle and high schools, youth sports, daycares, weekend events, and other activities.

The Snohomish Health District is the local public health agency for Snohomish County. Its programs and services create a healthier and safer community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Learn more about the work of the Health District at www.snohd.org.

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