ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Reflecting the value of community pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is answering the call of public health authorities to promote vaccinations in the battle against whooping cough, also known as pertussis.
Kathleen Jaeger, NACDS’ SVP of pharmacy care and patient advocacy, is spreading the message amid a growing national outbreak of the highly-contagious respiratory disease.
In a letter addressed to “pharmacists and community vaccinators,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked them to help raise awareness of whooping cough vaccinations, because “as trusted healthcare professionals, research shows that [their] recommendation to receive needed vaccines is vital.”
NACDS is featuring Jaeger, a pharmacist, in an online, print and radio media outreach effort to bring attention to the outbreak and to note the accessible and professional solution that community pharmacies provide. Through the use of op-eds, interviews, news releases and other communications vehicles, Jaeger will concentrate her efforts in Washington State, where the CDC has declared a whooping cough epidemic, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have the next highest rates of reported incidences.
The CDC is reporting a three-fold increase in pertussis rates in more than a dozen states. Pharmacists can administer the Tdap vaccine — which protects against pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diphtheria in adults — in 43 states, including Minnesota, Washington state and Wisconsin.
The CDC is recommending that adults who come into close contact with young infants — parents, grandparents, caretakers and other adults — receive a dose of the vaccine, known as Tdap, at least two weeks prior to contact. The vaccination will help protect newborns, infants and school-aged children against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The CDC also recommends that pregnant women receive the vaccination after 20 weeks of pregnancy and to receive the influenza vaccine anytime during pregnancy.