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Several C.O. Families Vaccinated For Pertussis


The first whooping cough case in Deschutes County had health officials encouraging everyone to get vaccinated on Friday. A three year old child was infected, and it’s especially worrisome for many parents, because it could be fatal for newborn babies.

Luisa Hernandez is a mother of five who also watches children in day care. After hearing about the local whooping cough case, she brought her whole family into the Deschutes County Health Department.

“Us grownups have to get it for them, so we don’t contaminate them,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez, her husband and son Eric don’t have insurance, but they’re getting the shot for a small fee of just over $15 each.

“Because I read of that case, and there wasn’t very much information, but it had the symptoms and what happens,” said Hernandez. “It’s pretty scary.”

Whooping cough starts as a normal cold, with a runny nose and coughing — but then it becomes more severe. The cough sounds like a spasm, leaving the infected person gasping for air. It can become so severe, it leads to vomiting or broken ribs.

As of June 11, 380 cases of pertussis have been reported in Oregon.

“All of last year, we only had 328 cases, and we’re only halfway though the year,” said Tom Kuhn with the county health department. “So it’s an indication that something is going on in Oregon as well. Not at the same level as Washington, but at the same time, in a few months from now, you might not know what we could be looking at.”

Doctors say the most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTAP for infants and children and TDAP for preteens, teens and adults.

“With the epidemic going on in Washington, maybe this will shed a little more light on the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Kuhn.

For the Hernandez family, Luisa says she hopes she can show her kids how much she cares for them.

“It’s a learning experience for them,” said Hernandez. “For the oldest kids, they know we’re doing this to keep them safe.”

To schedule a vaccination, call the Deschutes County Health Services at 541-322-7499. For those who don’t have insurance, the vaccine will cost $15.19.

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