SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – A message for residents to vaccinate against whooping cough will hit all 285,000 mailboxes of Snohomish County households by the end of the month.
The Little Red School House, a nonprofit dedicated to children and families, mailed out the postcard with support from sponsors. The postcard reads “GO! Get vaccinated” and directs Snohomish County residents to visit the Snohomish Health District Web site to learn how they can help “Stop the Cough.”
The idea for a countywide health alert on whooping cough came from family members of the Lake Stevens baby who died from the disease last year. The baby’s mother is featured in state Department of Health radio announcements that encourage adults and teens to get their booster shots.
More than 300 confirmed cases of whooping cough have been reported to the Snohomish Health District so far in 2012. The statewide count stands at 1,484 as of May 12, including 101 babies under one year of age. Twenty of 26 hospitalized babies (77%) were 3 months of age or younger.
Little Red Executive Director Terry Clark is the chair of the Health District’s Public Health Advisory Committee.
“All of the programs of Little Red School House focus on infants and toddlers and their families,” said Clark. “We know that those infants are at risk of serious illness or even death without the community working together to end this whooping cough epidemic.”
Little Red’s postcard was funded by local sponsors in support of public health: the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Medical Society, Verdant Health Commission, Providence Regional Medical Center and Swedish/Edmonds Hospital.
“We very much appreciate the solidarity our community partners have shown in getting this message out to all the residents of Snohomish County,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District.
“We lead the state in the number of whooping cough cases reported by counties so far in this statewide epidemic,” said Dr. Goldbaum. “The best way to protect all Snohomish County residents today and to prevent future epidemics is through vaccination. Adults are circulating the illness, so we are reminding them to get a shot to protect babies, who are the most seriously sickened by whooping cough.”
In addition to outreach by Snohomish Health District, the state Department of Health is running an ad campaign that includes statewide radio in English and Spanish, messages on billboards and buses, and social media advertising on Google and Facebook in an effort to promote whooping cough vaccination.
Low-cost or free vaccine is available throughout Snohomish County for people who meet income guidelines. To get vaccinated, make an appointment with your regular doctor, clinic or pharmacy. If you pay yourself, shots cost $25 to $100 - pharmacies are often the least expensive place to be vaccinated. Many health insurance plans cover immunizations without cost to the patient. Pharmacy and clinic locations are listed at www.snohd.org.
The Snohomish Health District is the local public health agency for Snohomish County. Its programs and services are devoted to creating 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.