Health officials are urging North Carolinians to make sure they’re immunized against pertussis (whooping cough) after new outbreaks across the state. Between December and the first week of June, state public health officials had tracked 179 cases of whooping cough in 23 counties, including 122 cases in the Winston-Salem area. That compared to just 126 cases of pertussis statewide in 2011.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious but preventable respiratory disease. In response to the outbreak, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services-administered Immunization Program (NCIP) has made Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis, available to anyone age 7 years and older, including adults, regardless of their insurance status.