Regence encouraging families to vaccinate against whooping cough

The number of pertussis cases reported in Idaho so far in 2010 has nearly doubled the figure for the comparable period last year, and Regence BlueShield of Idaho is joining Idaho health officials in encouraging people to make sure their families have up-to-date vaccinations against the disease.
 
According to a recent report, 77 cases of pertussis, also called whooping cough, were reported in Idaho during the first six months of this year, compared with 45 cases during the same time last year.
 
Vaccination is the best prevention for pertussis, and in Idaho, vaccination rates are among the lowest in the country, health officials said.
 
“Anyone who has contact with infants and children should be sure that their pertussis immunization is up-to-date,” said Christine Hahn, M.D., epidemiologist for the State of Idaho. “In most cases, infants contract the infection from a family member. Over half of all infants under the age of one who contract pertussis need to be hospitalized, and in very young infants, pertussis can be fatal.”
 
The vaccine to prevent pertussis is included in the regular, recommended series of immunizations given to children. The adult pertussis vaccine, called Tdap, is now offered in combination with one of the tetanus booster vaccines. Adults should receive a tetanus booster vaccine every 10 years (or sooner if they have certain wounds). Adults receiving Tdap for one of their recommended tetanus booster vaccines will bring their pertussis immunization up-to-date.
 
“It’s the time of year when many parents are taking their children in for immunizations as they prepare to go back to school,” said Richard Rainey, medical director for Regence BlueShield of Idaho. “Parents should check whether they have received their own adult tetanus booster vaccine within the past 10 years. If not, this would be a good time to schedule a time to get the Tdap to make their immunization status current.”
 
Most Regence plans provide coverage for these recommended vaccines. “As always, you should check with our Customer Service department before having a vaccine or medical procedure so you know what is covered and how it is covered,” Rainey said.
 
About Regence BlueShield of Idaho
Regence BlueShield of Idaho is a leading health plan in Idaho with more than 170,000 members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, serving nearly 2.5 million members as Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). Each plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit www.regence.com or www.twitter.com/RegenceIdaho.