WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Physicians' offices already have enough on their plate that a wave of new appointments for pertussis vaccinations would overwhelm them. For that reason, it's essential that pharmacists and retail clinicians step in to ensure that kids, and especially adults, get vaccinated against the disease.
(THE NEWS: "Supervalu makes Tdap vaccines available across chain to fight whooping cough spread." For the full story, click here.)
Whooping cough epidemics already have broken out across the country, with the one under way in Washington state particularly serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases there has risen nearly fivefold in less than four months, with the 640 cases reported in early April increasing to more than 3,000 as of July 20, out of the 18,000 cases nationwide reported so far to the CDC. Nine babies have died.
Because of that, the CDC recommends vaccinations for pregnant women and anyone in contact with small children and infants. Thus, efforts like Supervalu's, as well as boosts in vaccine supplies in hard-hit states by such retailers as Walgreens and Rite Aid and MinuteClinic's stocking of pertussis and other vaccines in preparation for the back-to-school season will go a long way toward helping stamp out the epidemic of a disease that once was a greatly feared killer of small children, but until recently had mostly been kept under control, especially because walking into a pharmacy or retail clinic is much less of a hassle than setting up an appointment by a doctor.