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Happening Now: Whooping cough vaccination clinic being held in Henderson County

A vaccination clinic is happening Thursday to help fight the spread of whooping cough. So far, 56 people have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease in Henderson County. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

A vaccination clinic is happening Thursday to help fight the spread of whooping cough.

So far, 56 people have been diagnosed with the respiratory disease in Henderson County.

Officials are advising anyone with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, and children who are 11 and older be vaccinated.

Health officials say whooping cough is now a community-wide issue in Henderson County.

They say you may have it and not even know it yet. Symptoms start off similar to a cold then after about two weeks, the cough gets worse.

An antibiotic may not even fully cure the cough. Health officials say you can help yourself and also protect others by getting the vaccine.

"It does tend to make the illness less severe if you've had the Tdap vaccine. Again it protects those who cannot protect themselves or get vaccinated," said Kim Horton, communications manager, Henderson County Department of Public Health.

Health officials admit the vaccine may not protect you 100-percent, but compare getting vaccinated to putting on a seat belt.

It is recommended that you wash your hands often and stay home if you are sick.

Thursday's clinic runs until 5:30 p.m. The Health Department accepts most major insurance plans. Without insurance, the vaccine costs $60.

Another clinic is planned for December 28th.

County health officials say whooping cough is a serious respiratory infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. It affects the lungs and breathing tubes, and it's easily spread when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes.

Anyone can get whooping cough. Even those who have been fully vaccinated can get the infection but will have milder symptoms.

The symptoms often start off mild, like a cold – runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough.

Health officials say symptoms can develop up to 21 days after exposure. Coughing fits that may cause vomiting and make it hard to breathe can begin 1-2 weeks after first symptoms and can last for months.

If you have been notified that you or a family member may have been exposed to whooping cough, health officials advise:

  • If the person who had contact with a case has symptoms, stay home to keep others from getting sick and contact your doctor for appropriate care. If the doctor thinks you may have whooping cough and gives you an antibiotic, you should stay home until you finish taking the medication.
  • If the person who had contact does NOT have symptoms but has an infant, pregnant woman or someone with a weakened immune system in their home, contact the health department or school nurse.

Click here to learn more about whooping cough and its risks.

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