flu shotFREEHOLD, NJ – Due to the presence of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in Monmouth County, the Monmouth County Health Department (MCHD) is offering two free Tdap vaccine clinics for Monmouth County residents on Dec. 16 and Dec. 22.

“Our Health Department is working closely with local public health officials to monitor the presence of pertussis in Monmouth County,” said Christopher Merkel, Monmouth County’s Public Health Coordinator. “We strongly urge anyone 19 years of age or over, who has not previously received the vaccine, to get the Tdap vaccine from the County Health Department or your health care provider.”

Tdap is a combination vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and is routinely given at age 11 or 12.

Two clinics will be held at the Monmouth County Health Department located at 3435 Highway 9:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 22 from 9 a.m. to noon

Clinic participants will be screened by a registered nurse regarding risk factors and educated about the vaccine. A parent or guardian must sign a consent form for children six months to 18 years of age.

Vaccination to prevent against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis is recommended for:

  • Pregnant women
  • Health care professionals
  • Anyone having close contact with a baby younger than 12 months
  • People who did not get Tdap at their regular check-up at age 11 or 12

No appointments are necessary, but vaccines are given on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call the County Health Department at 732-431-7456.

The national Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that pertussis is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease to another person by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound.

The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks and as the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of pertussis may appear and include coughing fits followed by a high-pitched “whoop,” vomiting and exhaustion.

Anyone who presents such symptoms should contact their health care professional immediately.

More information about pertussis is available from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html.