Piedmont Triad - Local public health departments are encouraging all community members to check the status of their immunizations, as August is not only back-to-school month but also National Immunization Awareness Month.
The Guilford County Department of Public Health said it has been issuing news releases, posting flyers and reaching out to local schools in order to raise awareness about immunizations.
One illness the Guilford County Dept. of Public Health said people need to be particularly aware of this year is Pertussis--more commonly known as Whooping Cough. The Pertussis vaccine is a requirement for all North Carolina school children entering both public and private elementary schools.
But, Guilford County Dept. of Public Health clinical nurse manager Vonda Pabon told News 2 Monday that it is equally as important for adults to get vaccinated against the illness, so as to prevent spreading it to infants who are most susceptible to the worse effects of Pertussis.
Last year's Pertussis outbreak has been considered one of the worst in 50 years and led to the death of a North Carolina infant in June. Pabon said there were eight whooping cough fatalities and more than 41,000 cases--which have increased steadily since the 1980s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the illness peaks every three to five years and affects primarily infants. Pabon said since January, she has seen 18 local cases of Pertussis.
The TDAP vaccine for adults and the DTAP vaccine for children cover not only Pertussis but also Tetanus and Diphtheria. They are one-time vaccines, but adults need boosters every 10 years. The Department of Health and Human Services Immunization Branch's most recent nationwide survey conducted in 2009 indicated North Carolina children were above the national average in getting the vaccine. Pabon said she suspects North Carolina is still one of the leading states in updating immunizations, because of the process by which the Department of Public Health tracks and checks up on immunizations.
Pabon said people unsure about whether their immunizations are up-to-date can call their private physicians or the Department of Public Health at 336-641-3245. The department's clinics sometimes provide free vaccinations, depending on individual health insurance circumstances. It also frequently hosts vaccination days, including a TDAP vaccination day at the department's Greensboro and High Point locations on Saturday, Aug. 24.