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Whooping cough vaccines available
KDHE providing free shots for adults starting Thursday
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In response to the whooping cough outbreak that has cause on death in Barton County, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has provided the Barton County Health Department additional pertussis vaccine supplies to prevent the disease.
The vaccine will be available at no charge for adults age 19 and older on a first come, first served basis. The vaccine will be available during regular business hours beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday until the supply are gone.
“The KDHE has assured us that they will get us enough vaccine to get through this outbreak,” Health Director Shelly Schneider said.
Community residents are reminded that only one adult Tdap booster with the pertussis component is needed during a lifetime unless the adult is pregnant, Schneider said.  Barton County Health Department staff will review vaccine records during client visits.
In Barton County, there are  five current cases of whooping cough and there has been one infant fatality from the disease in the past month, Schneider said. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, an outbreak is at least two incidents of the illness in people who don’t reside in the same household. 
Schneider said it is important to isolate of those suffering from whooping cough symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that persons with pertussis should avoid contact with others until they have taken five full days of an appropriate antibiotic or they should remain in respiratory isolation for three weeks if they do not take an appropriate antibiotic.  Prompt use of antibiotics in a household is helpful in limiting other cases.
“If you have a sick child with a cough, keep them at home,” she said. “Parents should also consider protecting their babies, especially those under 6 months of age, by keeping them out of crowds and away from anyone who has a cough illness.” 
Pertussis symptoms include a severe, uncontrollable cough and low-grade fever.
Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk of long-term harm or death from pertussis, she said.
Early diagnosis and treatment can shorten the contagious period, and antibiotics may be prescribed to all household and other close contacts to prevent spread of the disease, she said. 
“It’s just so highly contagious,” Schneider said. All one has to do to be considered a contact is have been within three feet of an infected person.
Whooping cough is an air-borne disease and can be spread by coughs and sneezes.
The Health Department is urging residents to make sure the whooping cough vaccines for themselves and their children are up to date, and if recommended, a booster is administered.
This is also important to protect those who cannot be vaccinated.
For more information, contact Barton County Health Department at 620-793-1902.