The Polk County Health Department is making it easy for you to get your vaccines up to date in hopes of putting a stop to the spread of pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
The department will host a free walk-in clinic from 9 am to 7 pm at 1907 Carpenter Avenue Tuesday, May 1. It's for anyone ten and older to get a booster shot to provide protection from pertussis.
Lori Parsons with the Polk County Health Department says, "To have people come, get their immunization status checked, get immunized and just not put it off. There's no reason to. We've hopefully removed any barriers and you don't need to put off something you could easily have done."
Parsons says there has been an increase in pertussis cases that started in schools on the south side of Des Moines this spring. Now, the cases are county wide. She says they’ve tracked 49 cases since March. One person has been hospitalized.
Pertussis is a bacterial infection that starts with a runny nose, sneezing and coughing. The cough slowly gets worse and progresses to uncontrolled coughing spells. Pertussis can cause serious complications and even death in babies, since they don't get their first immunization until two months and aren't fully protected until age four. Parsons says that’s why it’s critical for parents and caregivers to make sure their vaccines are up to date.