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COLUMN: Tdap vaccine available at LaRue County Health Department

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By Diana Leathers, Community Health Educator

 The Tdap vaccine is used to prevent the serious health consequences that result from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis diseases. The Center for Disease Control offers the following information about each of these diseases:

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds. It causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead to tightening of muscles in the head and neck so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow, or sometimes even breathe. Tetanus kills about one out of five people who are infected.

Diphtheria, which is spread from person to person, can cause a thick membrane to cover the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and even death.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, also spreads from person to person and causes severe coughing spells which can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can lead to weight loss, incontinence, rib fractures and passing out from violent coughing. Up to two in 100 adolescents and five in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, including pneumonia and death.

The CDC recommends the following individuals receive the Tdap vaccine:

* Children at age 11 or 12 years old

* Adults under 65 who have never gotten the Tdap vaccine

* Adults 65 and older may get one booster dose of Tdap

* Adults (including women who may become pregnant and adults 65 and older) who expect to have close contact with a baby younger than 12 months of age. This includes daycare workers, babysitters, grandparents and those living in homes with infants younger than 12 months of age.

* Healthcare professionals who have direct patient contact in hospitals or clinics

To schedule an appointment to receive this vaccination or for more information, call the LaRue County Health Department at 270-358-3844. The fee for this vaccination is $10.

For more information about the Tdap vaccine, visit the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Diana Leathers is the community educator for the LaRue County Health Department.