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Sedgwick County and the state of Kansas, and the rest of the nation has been experiencing an epidemic of whooping cough, or pertussis over the past 13 months. A report for Sedgwick County commissioners this week shows 98 reported cases in the county in 2012, with 41,000 cases across the United States, with 18 deaths.
County health department director Claudia Blackburn says pertussis can be prevented with a vaccine, but only 52 percent of 2-year-old children in the county are up-to-date on their vaccinations, compared with 57 percent statewide. Blackburn said the national rate is 73 percent, with a goal of 80 percent. She says infants need 4 doses of vaccine before they're fully protected, and they don't start getting the doses until they are 2 months of age.
Blackburn said with pertussis, adults and children have to stay home for days to prevent spreading the disease to others, and there is an economic impact from people missing school and work. She says everyone needs to be vaccinated.
Blackburn said the health department conducted vaccination clincs at 15 schools last year.