By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda L. Kilpatrick, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) will provide free Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis (TDaP) vaccinations to TRICARE beneficiaries Aug. 27, to help families comply with California's new Health and Safety Code law mandating all students entering 7th to 12th grades or enrolling in a child care center provide proof of a TDaP vaccination for the 2011-2012 school year.
Last year, California experienced the highest number of Pertussis cases, often referred to as whooping cough, in the past 52 years with a total of 9,477 cases including 10 infant deaths, reported the California Department of Public Health. The TDaP vaccination protects against Pertussis, which is a highly contagious bacterial infection, caused by Bordetella Pertussis which is spread by coughs or sneezes.
"With the increase in the number of cases of Pertussis outbreaks, especially among pre-teens, teens and babies younger than six months of age, I believe this is a wonderful benefit and protection we can offer our patients," said Alberta Ama Agyemang, head nurse, NMCSD Pediatric clinic. "With the current school requirement we are administering about 50 TDaP vaccines per day in general pediatrics."
Before 2005, only children younger than seven received the Pertussis vaccine until case numbers began to rise. Now, whooping cough has become an epidemic in California.
"The protection provided by the DTaP vaccine received in childhood wears off as children get older so getting a booster dose of TDaP not only protects pre-teens and teens, but also the people around them, especially little babies and elders," said Agyemang.
TDaP is not just for children, a booster should be given to adults every 10 years or in some cases more often if adults are in daily contact with infants or medical patients.
"TDaP is required for schools in the state of California and we also recommend it to parents with a new born baby. It's an effective way to prevent whooping cough in children," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tianzhi Wang, pediatric general duty corpsman. "If they are here and they need to have the shot, we will give it to them."
NMCSD has approximately 12,000 enrollees in the pediatric department and has walk-in immunizations hours from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and by appointments from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.