Tom Hosea, chairman of the board of AWB, receives a whooping cough booster vaccine. (Screen grab from KING 5 news report.)
In response to a request from Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Association of Washington Business is urging employers throughout the state to join the fight to stop the spread of whooping cough.
More than 1,200 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, were reported as of Monday, and the state Department of Health has declared an epidemic. Last year at this time, there were 117 reported cases.
Employers can help stop the spread of the highly contagious bacterial infection by informing their workers about the need to get vaccinated. Teens and adults who have already been vaccinated should get a booster, officials said, because the vaccine wears off over time.
Whooping cough usually starts with mild cold symptoms or a cough but can turn into severe coughing spells followed by gagging or vomiting. It's particularly dangerous for infants and can lead to complications that require hospitalization or even cause death.
Infants are the most at risk, but they are too young to be protected by the vaccine.
"So, it's up to families, caregivers and communities to protect them by getting vaccinated," Gregoire said.
The Tdap (tetanus diphtheria and accelluarl pertussis) booster vaccine is widely available at doctor's offices, pharmacies, healthcare offices and clinics.
In Olympia, the vaccine was available from the Safeway pharmacy for $59.95 without insurance. With insurance, the cost may be less.