TMA Grant Helps Austinites Prevent Whooping Cough

April 10, 2019

Austinites in a medically underserved area will receive vaccinations to prevent whooping cough and tetanus, thanks to a grant from the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Be Wise – Immunize℠ program. TMA recently awarded a grant to Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin TMA Medical Student Section Chapter to help provide the free vaccinations.

“A vaccination for adults can help prevent whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in the little ones around them who are most at risk for the disease,” said TMA Foundation (TMAF) President Leslie H. Secrest, MD, of Dallas. “Our grant funding will help these Austin residents avoid illnesses that can have serious, even deadly, consequences for them or their loved ones.” 

Students at Dell Medical School will provide the vaccinations for adults on Saturdays throughout April and early May at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Ln. Events will be this Saturday (April 13), April 20 and 27, and May 4. 

The rec center is located within the 78753 ZIP code of Austin, one of two areas in Travis County that saw the highest rates of pertussis (whooping cough) between 2011 and 2015, according to Austin Public Health’s 2017 Critical Health Indicators Report. Austin Public Health also is providing support for the vaccination event. 

“We want to remove any barriers to vaccination for residents in this underserved area of the city,” said Katie Jenson, a first-year medical student who is spearheading the effort. “We want to bring the vaccines to them, in their languages, so transportation, cost, or any other barriers won’t get in the way of protecting their health.”

Whooping cough is especially dangerous for infants younger than 1 year of age. It is highly contagious, and the Texas Department of State Health Services says more than half of babies less than a year old with pertussis must be hospitalized. Many will have serious complications, like pneumonia or apnea (slowed or stopped breathing), and some become so sick they will die. 

Because babies can catch pertussis from anyone near them, physicians recommend all those who will come into contact with a baby be up to date on their whooping cough vaccination, including parents, grandparents, and child care providers. 

A Tdap vaccination (a combination vaccination that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) is recommended at least once for all adults. A tetanus vaccination is recommended every 10 years to prevent the disease, which can enter the body through open wounds, such as cuts, burns, or animal bites. 

The Be Wise – Immunize Local Impact Grants program funds the grants to enable physician and student members of TMA and the TMA Alliance (an organization of physician volunteers and their spouses) to help ensure their communities are healthy by offering childhood, adolescent, and adult vaccinations at special events and clinics. Members often partner with local organizations to reach residents in need. 

Since 2012, TMA’s Local Impact Grants program has awarded 105 grants totaling more than $203,000 to provide more than 13,000 vaccinations across the state. Be Wise – Immunize and the Local Impact Grants are funded by TMAF, TMA’s philanthropic arm. 

TMA actively works to improve vaccination rates in Texas through its Be Wise – Immunize program. More than 360,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004. TMAF funds the Be Wise program in 2019 through generous support from H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, Pfizer Inc., and gifts from physicians and their families. 

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. 

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

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TMA Contacts:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear@texmed.org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper@texmed.org

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Last Updated On

April 10, 2019