The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is calling on Chicago families to vaccinate themselves against whooping cough (pertussis) to help protect their infants as part of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 22-29. CDPH will remind families through a weeklong campaign of the importance of vaccinating against whooping cough, which is highly treatable, by hosting free vaccination clinics across four sites for families citywide.

Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills
Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills

“Whooping cough can be deadly for infants and young children – luckily it is also preventable,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita M.D.  “The best way to protect infants from certain diseases is to make sure they receive the appropriate vaccines according to the recommended schedule.”

During NIIW, CDPH will launch an awareness campaign featuring radio and CTA advertisements to remind parents and caregivers to get their children vaccinated and also to keep their own vaccinations up to date, to help further protect their children. This year’s campaign for whooping cough awareness is in result of an increase in the number of infant whooping cough cases at the end of 2016.

In addition, CDPH will host clinics at the following locations for adults and children to receive their whooping cough vaccine, also known as the DTaP or Tdap shot, for no out of pocket cost:

Thursday, April 27, 2017; 9 a.m. – 1p.m.
WHSP WIC 2400 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623

Friday, April 28, 2017; 9 a.m. – 1p.m.
Greater Lawn WIC, 4150 West 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60638

“The number of pertussis cases has increased every year since 2014,” said Dr. Marielle Fricchione, Medical Director of the Immunization Program at CDPH.  “Like most of the nation, Chicago has seenhigh numbers of whooping cough cases,” said Dr. Marielle Fricchione, Medical Director of the Immunization Program at CDPH. “But there is a vaccine that will help protect us. Get vaccinated and help Chicago whip the whooping cough.”

CDPH recommends that individuals receive vaccinations from their own doctor or health care provider. For those without a healthcare provider, there are also other convenient, affordable opportunities to get a Tdap shot, including retail pharmacies and the CDPH Fast-Track Clinics.

What you need to know about whooping cough:

  • Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.  The disease is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which makes it hard to breathe and often results in a “whoop” at the end of a coughing fit.
  • Even though babies can be vaccinated with a whooping cough vaccine starting at two months of age, they are not fully protected until they are older.
  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap during every pregnancy.
  • Healthcare providers should get a Tdap every 10 years so they do not spread whooping cough to their patients.

Chicago Public Schools requires one dose of Tdap vaccine before 6th grade or before 7th through 12th grades if the dose before 6th grade was missed.  CDPH encourages parents across the city to check their children’s immunization records and make an appointment to get them vaccinated.

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is held annually to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. Chicago has held its own NIIW campaign in recent years to promote health across all communities, which is a central tenet of the citywide health plan, Health Chicago 2.0, focused on removing health inequities across the board.