Tdap Vaccine Required for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Employees to Help Protect Against Whooping Cough 11/08/2010 Vaccines also offered to the public at its outpatient pharmacies
Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is reaching high levels in Washtenaw and Livingston counties. In an effort to help stop the spread of this dangerous and potentially deadly disease, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Livingston and Saline hospitals are requiring that all employees, physicians and volunteers receive the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).
“We are a health care provider that is taking a strong stance against the spread of this very preventable disease,” shares Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, vice president for quality and systems improvement, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “Our role as a health care organization is to participate in evidence-based practices that protect our patients, each other and our communities.”
Whooping cough is a serious illness and is especially concerning for very young infants. It is less dangerous in adults, but potentially deadly for babies in the first two months of life, before they receive their own dose of the DtaP vaccine. (DtaP is the vaccine approved for children under seven years old; Tdap is for adolescents aged 11 or 12 and over and adults).
“Infants receive four shots against whooping cough at their well-baby visits, but until they receive their first vaccine and their bodies build immunity, they are very susceptible to pertussis.” shares Russ Olmsted, epidemiologist and director of infection, prevention and control at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “This vaccine is safe; individuals cannot contract either pertussis or tetanus from it. We strongly encourage families to properly prepare to welcome home their new baby.”
As such, St. Joseph Mercy is encouraging new mothers, fathers and family members who will be around the newborn(s) to receive the Tdap vaccine as well. It is recommended that mothers get vaccinated in their third trimester. Fathers can receive the vaccine through their primary care doctor or at St. Joseph Mercy Reichert and St. Joseph Mercy Towers pharmacies for a fee.
Siblings of new babies should be sure and have up-to-date immunizations, and teens should receive their boosters. Once adults receive their booster vaccine, it is good for at least 10 years.
“As one of the largest employers in both Washtenaw and Livingston counties, with many of our employees also living in these areas, we are not only being responsible caregivers, but we are being responsible neighbors,” concludes Halasyamani. “We encourage the community to heed this advice and get vaccinated.”
Individuals are encouraged to talk to their primary care doctor about receiving the Tdap vaccine, as it may be covered by insurance. The vaccine is also being offered at St. Joseph Mercy Reichert Pharmacy (734-712-2222) and St. Joseph Mercy Towers Pharmacy (734-712-3333). Please call for more information, vaccine availability and cost.