North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is urging parents to immunize their children and other adult family members against infectious diseases such as pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, which continues to be on the rise across the country. In North Carolina schools, immunization records are checked at the beginning of each school year, with a special emphasis at the start of kindergarten and at the start of sixth grade. Older family members often serve as carriers of pertussis and can easily spread it to vulnerable infants and young children, so they should be immunized as well. Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Locally, Wilkes County has had 19 confirmed cases of Whooping Cough. In Wilkes, there have been 322 contact investigations for Pertussis. Health Departments are seeking anyone 16 years and older who have not had a Tdap vaccine to come in for a vaccine. Pertussis can last up to one month so students and parents may miss up to 4 weeks of school and work. Pertussis or Whooping Cough can be fatal; it is a serious disease for infants less than one year of age, and for children with a decreased immune system. Statistics show that 3.3 million in the U.S. will become sick with Pertussis and only 7% of adults have received the Tdap vaccine. Don’t be confused--Tetanus shots do not protect from Pertussis. Call the Wilkes County Health Department for an appointment for a FREE Tdap vaccine (651-7450). The Wilkes County Health Department will also be at Boomer Medical Center on Saturday August 11th from 9 am-12 pm giving FREE Tdap vaccines. If you have any questions or concerns about Whooping Cough and the vaccine, please call the Wilkes Health Dept at 651-7450.