Gregoire takes emergency action to slow whooping cough epidemicon May 3, 2012 @ 2:17 pm (Updated: 3:54 pm - 5/3/12 )
The governor has also announced federal approval for health officials to buy several thousand doses of pertussis vaccine for adults.
"I've been following the epidemic closely and the continued increase in cases has me very concerned about the health of our residents," Gregoire said in a statement. "I'm especially concerned about the vulnerable babies in our communities that are too young to be fully immunized. These actions will help state and local health leaders get vaccine into people's arms so we can stem the tide."
The number of whooping cough cases in the state is heading for unprecedented levels, according to Secretary of Health Mary C. Selecky.
"In my 13 years as secretary this is the first time I've had to use the word 'epidemic' about disease in our state," Selecky said. "Pertussis is very serious, especially for babies. It's vital that teens and adults are current on their immunizations because they're often the ones who give whooping cough to babies. We're headed for unprecedented numbers of cases. We've got to keep spreading the word to help prevent the spread of illness."
The Department of Health says 1,132 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the state through April 28— that's compared to 117 over the same time last year. There were 965 cases reported in all of 2011. The epidemic is on pace for as many as 3,000 cases in 2012.
Gregoire is making $90,000 available from the governor's emergency fund to strengthen public awareness efforts about the need for vaccination.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved using federal funds to buy more than 27,000 doses of pertussis vaccine for adults who are uninsured or underinsured.
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