With an outbreak of whooping cough spreading across the Fraser Valley, Fraser Health is urging all adults in regular contact with young children, as well as pregnant women and their partners, to see their doctor or participating pharmacist and get vaccinated for the potentially deadly disease.
More than 255 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the Fraser Health Region since early December, including more than 45 new cases since the beginning of March.
The actual number of cases is likely much higher, according to Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder.
Cases were initially confined to the eastern Fraser Valley, but recently cases have been reported in almost all other Fraser Health communities, indicating that the disease is still circulating.
Fraser Health is offering a free vaccine to help combat the outbreak.
“We continue to see new cases and urge anyone who has or expects to have contact with infants and young children to get vaccinated,” said Van Buynder. “Fraser Health has distributed over 30,000 doses of the whooping cough vaccine to doctors and pharmacists.”
Whooping cough is a very contagious disease that causes severe coughing that may last for months. It can be a very serious illness in young children and babies, who have small airways. More than half of infants less than one year of age who get whooping cough must be hospitalized and in some cases, it is life threatening.
The vaccine offers protection for four to 10 years, so many adults are without adequate coverage. The free vaccine is available through doctors’ offices and participating pharmacies for all adults and youth who have not had a whooping cough booster in the past five years and who are in regular contact with young children.
In Maple Ridge, three pharmacies are taking part in the free vaccine program: the Safeway pharmacy on Lougheed Highway, Maple Pharmacy on 224th Street, and the Save-On-Foods pharmacy at Valley Fair Mall.
In Pitt Meadows, the Shoppers Drug Mart on Lougheed Highway is participating.
The vaccine is also available through family doctors.
A list of immunizing pharmacies can be found at www.fraserhealth.ca/whoopingcough.
Confirmed cases of whooping cough:
• Hope, 94;
• Agassiz/Harrison, 11;
• Chilliwack, 38;
• Mission, 11;
• Abbotsford, 12.
• Langley, 19;
• Surrey, 19;
• South Surrey/ White Rock, 3;
• Delta, 7.
• Maple Ridge, 17;
• Coquitlam, 12;
• New Westminster, 5;
• Burnaby, 13.