Linn County Public Health Prepares for Vaccine Distribution
By Jill Kasparie, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The battle against an ever-growing number of Pertussis cases continues in Linn County.
Nurses at the Linn County Public Health Department said the outbreak started back in May. Currently, the county has 196 confirmed and probable cases. That's more than any other county in the state. The Iowa Department of Public Health monitors the number of cases and reports those on a weekly basis.
Linn County Public Health staff members are in the middle of an effort to fight the disease. They're reviewing piles and piles of consent forms from students and their parents across the county. It's part of a program to update the pertussis vaccine among students.
“The forms are still coming in, we're going through each and every form and once we get through the forms processed, then we will see how much vaccine needs to be ordered," said Public Health Nurse Heather Meador. "Since this is going through the state, we want to make sure we are ordering the correct quantity."
Within about three week, nurses will hold clinics to distribute the vaccine at schools across the county. Health professionals said the response has been very good. Every district in Linn County has expressed interest in participating in the program to give out the whopping cough vaccine. The focus is on middle school and high school kids.
"Before they started kindergarten they've already been vaccinated for Pertussis and they would have received all of the shots by the time they get vaccinated, so they are protected," Meador said. "However, as they get older that protectiveness from the vaccine, the immunity starts to wane.”
As the date draws closer for the vaccine distribution, health experts are pushing families to keep a watchful eye on their children. Keep them home from school if they begin coughing and get them checked out by a doctor.
"Pertussis is contagious on day one of the cough," Meador said. "So, when they start to cough, when the child begins that cough, even if it's a mild cough, they are contagious form day one of the cough and they are contagious of up to 21 days."
According to nurses, Pertussis often begins with symptoms that mimic the flu or allergies.
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