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Verdant Health Commission Works to Reduce Whooping Cough

Working in partnership with the Snohomish Health District, the Verdant Health Commission is sponsoring pertussis vaccination clinics.

Working in partnership with the Snohomish Health District, the Verdant Health Commission is sponsoring pertussis vaccination clinics.

November 29, 2012

In April 2012, a whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic was declared in Washington State. According to the CDC, by June 16, 2012, the reported number of cases in 2012 had reached 2,520. When compared to the same period in 2011, this represented a 1,300 percent increase.

Within Washington, Snohomish County has been hit hard. More than 500 cases of whooping cough have been reported so far in 2012.  Reversing this trend by increasing vaccination rates is a top priority for the Snohomish Health District and the Verdant Health Commission.

The Verdant Health Commission is a program of the public hospital district, which previously operated Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, Washington. Since leasing its facility to Swedish in 2010, the hospital district’s mission now is to promote health and wellness in south Snohomish County—specifically in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, and portions of Bothell and unincorporated Snohomish County.

Working in partnership with the Snohomish Health District, the Verdant Health Commission has sponsored vaccination clinics. But the agency is doing more. “We wanted to be part of a more extensive outreach and felt that this was a natural opportunity for us to help,” says Jennifer Piplic, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Verdant Health Commission.

“Families with young children are aware and getting vaccinated. But if you don’t have an infant in your home or life, you might think that you don’t need to take action.”

It is this group of people that the Verdant Health Commission wants to reach. In September 2012, they hosted a series of community leader meetings. The audience included civic leaders, business leaders, and representatives from community groups and organizations. Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District, gave a presentation about whooping cough. The Verdant Health Commission provided toolkits that attendees could use to raise awareness of the epidemic within their organizations.

Currently, the agency is raising awareness by using automated calls to reach many of the approximately 240,000 residents in south Snohomish County. This effort began in mid-November. Timed to arrive around the same time as the calls, a newsletter called “The Canopy” was sent to approximately 76,000 households and businesses. Both the automated calls and the newsletter provide information on the importance of getting immunized against whooping cough and where people can go to get vaccinated.

“We want to help everyone realize that even if there aren’t infants in the home, it’s important to the community that we all have immunity,” Piplic says.

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