NORMAN — With more than 41,000 cases of pertussis reported across the U.S. during 2012 — including 18 deaths — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Norman Regional Health System is taking steps to protect its youngest patients.
Susie Graves, director of Norman Regional’s Women’s and Children’s Services, said the hospital began administering the pertussis — or whooping cough — vaccine to all employees in February.
The highly contagious respiratory infection is most likely to affect infants 12 months and younger, according to the CDC website, but that age group does not complete the five-dose vaccine until they are 4-6 years old.
In light of this week’s National Patient Safety Awareness Week, Graves said the hospital’s program of vaccinating all employees for free is an effort to stop any chance of infection in its tracks.
“We are trying to protect any children we come in contact with by health care providers not being an agent carrying it to the children,” she said.
According to the CDC, among the vaccine-preventable diseases, pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring ones in the U.S.
Though the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, Graves said both children and adults, including pregnant women, are encouraged to get vaccinated.
“We encourage the families to go to the health department, also,” she said. “Anyone that is around children less than 12 months old should be vaccinated.”
The Cleveland County Health Department does not charge a fee for TDaP and TD (tetanus, diptheria, acellular pertussis; tetanus and diptheria) vaccines for eligible children through the age of 19.
Call the Norman location, 250 12th Ave. NE, at 321-4048 or the Moore location, 424 S. Eastern Ave., at 794-1591 for more information.