Portland Clinic Wins Grant to Vaccinate Against Whooping Cough

July 10, 2014    

Twenty-three cases of pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” have been reported in the Coastal Bend area of Texas so far this year. Nine people were hospitalized from the contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented with a vaccination.

Physicians from Medical Arts Clinic in Portland want to combat the disease. They recently received a $2,000 grant from Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Be Wise-ImmunizeSM Local Grants Program for vaccine to protect Coastal Bend residents from pertussis.

Local residents can receive a free Tdap vaccination that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis on Aug. 16 from 9 am to 3 pm at a health fair at the First United Methodist Church of Portland. The health fair also will include sports physicals and other health screenings for people of all ages.

James Mobley, MD, a family physician at Medical Arts Clinic, says pertussis is a dangerous but preventable illness. “However, for babies below the age of 6 months, pertussis can be deadly,” added Dr. Mobley.

The pertussis vaccine is recommended for adolescents and adults, especially those in contact with newborns. Babies cannot receive their first pertussis vaccine until they are 2 months old, and they are not fully protected until they receive multiple doses, usually when they reach 15 to 18 months.

“By providing Tdap vaccination to a parent or grandparent, we can protect young infants who have not completed their pertussis series,” said Dr. Mobley. Vaccinating those around newborns is called “cocooning,” as in wrapping the baby in a protective cocoon against the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that half of infants who contract whooping cough are hospitalized. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports most infant mortalities from whooping cough occur when the mother has not received a pertussis vaccination.

Nearly 4,000 cases of pertussis were reported in Texas in 2013, the highest rate in 10 years, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. One of the five infants who died of pertussis was from Nueces County, its first death from pertussis in more than 10 years.

Medical Arts Clinic will provide approximately 300 Tdap vaccinations at no cost with help from these local organizations: First Methodist Church of Portland, San Patricio County Department of Public Health, Regional Health Awareness Board, San Patricio County, Nueces County, and City of Corpus Christi.

The Be Wise — Immunize Local Impact Grants help Texas communities provide free and low-cost vaccinations to uninsured Texans. Since 2012, 26 grants totaling more than $40,000 have been awarded to Texas communities to improve Texans’ health. Be Wise — Immunize and the Local Impact Grants are funded by the TMA Foundation (TMAF), thanks to generous support from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, and gifts from physicians and their families.

“TMA Foundation and its donors are proud to support this effort because immunizations prevent serious diseases and help us live a healthier life,” said TMAF President G. Sealy Massingill, MD.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. TMA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the association and raises funds to support the public health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the family of medicine.  

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

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Contact:
Pam Udall (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 413-6807; email: pam.udall@texmed.org
Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear@texmed.org

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