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Protecting Infants from Whooping Cough

  • March 11, 2013

From 2011-2012, 49 states reported increases in the number of cases of pertussis, with many states reporting increases greater than three-fold.When a pertussis epidemic strikes, infants and young children suffer. Also known as whooping cough, this highly contagious disease causes violent coughing and can lead to deadly complications – especially for unprotected infants.In an effort to safeguard vulnerable children from whooping cough, AmeriCares and its corporate and health care partners have implemented Give Immunity Fight Transmission (G.I.F.T.)—a highly successful vaccination campaign that has prevented more than 200,000 uninsured people throughout the U.S. from exposing unprotected babies to the dangerous disease.Through the G.I.F.T. program, AmeriCares corporate partner, sanofi pasteur, donated one dose of their Tdap vaccine to AmeriCares for every 100 doses physicians purchased. AmeriCares delivered the vaccine—more than 200,000 in total —to safety net clinics across the United States serving the poor and uninsured. The Tdap vaccine also protects against diphtheria and tetanus.By vaccinating adult caregivers against the highly contagious disease, the program protects infants in the vulnerable period before they complete their immunizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half the babies under age one who contract pertussis require hospitalization. Of these, one in five will get pneumonia and one in 100 will die. Family members who receive the Tdap vaccine are significantly less likely to spread the disease to babies, preventing tragic outcomes.Protecting caregivers is especially important in light of recent spikes in whooping cough cases. From 2011-2012, 49 states reported increases in the number of cases of pertussis, with many states reporting increases greater than three-fold.One of the clinic partners helped by this program is the Panhandle Public Health District, a Nebraska provider serving 10 rural counties with a large Native American population. Many families in their communities live in overcrowded conditions and have limited access to health care. To receive the vaccine, uninsured families would have to travel three hours to reach the nearest health facility and pay $60 to be immunized. AmeriCares was able to provide Panhandle Public Health with 200 doses of Tdap. The clinic launched a program that provided the Tdap vaccine at no charge, along with transportation for to the clinic. “With the recent outbreak of whooping cough in our area, this is a much needed public health service,” explained Betsy, a nurse at the clinic. “Thank you again for providing us with the means of improving the health of our community and especially for helping protect our children!”Donate Now