As pertussis cases rise in 2012, MinuteClinic helps underscore important role of clinics

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that MinuteClinic is urging parents and guardians to protect their children and themselves by getting the proper vaccination is important as it not only addresses a serious health concern, but also underscores the valuable role that retail-based health clinics can play in health care.

(THE NEWS: MinuteClinic urges vaccination as pertussis cases rise in 2012. For the full story, click here)

MinuteClinic is urging parents and guardians to obtain a DTaP shot (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) for unvaccinated children under 7 years old. Booster shots, known as Tdap, also are encouraged for all pre-teens, teens and adults.

Prompting the alert is the fact that there has been a reemergence of whooping cough in recent years and, just within the first three weeks of January, at least a dozen states have reported confirmed cases.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial illness spread by coughs and sneezes. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized young infants are particularly vulnerable. Health officials are strongly urging that children be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants get a booster shot. Health officials have indicated that vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of pertussis.

As the article indicates, pertussis is not to be taken lightly as the disease can result in hospitalization, particularly among infants. There are about 300,000 pertussis-related deaths worldwide per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clearly, nurse practitioners are in an ideal position to speak with their patients about the vaccination and to field questions about pertussis. And many clinic locations offer the Tdap vaccination.

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