Right now, we are in the middle of a severe pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic. In Washington state alone, cases over tentupled (which is a word that I made up for up more than times) since last year. In 2011, there were 146 confirmed pertusis cases through the first 20 weeks of the year. This year? 1738. That’s really bad, people. Really bad. And Washington, frankly, I’m a little disappointed in you.
Pertussis is a disease that, if contracted, often kills infants. And once they contract the disease, the only treatment they receive is to stop them form spreading it. There is no shortening of the illness. There is no medicine to help the body fight it. There’s just medication to stop you from spreading it.
And that “whoop” that gives whooping cough it’s name? That’s the sound of the sufferer struggling for air, being suffocated from inside their own body.
But worst of all, where they usually catch it is from an adult who hasn’t been vaccinated against pertussis.
So over here, in my little corner of the internet, with my tiny organization, we’re trying to fix this in every way we can… which is the only way we can, and that’s by vaccinating people against pertussis. If you can’t get infected with it, you can’t spread it.
Tdap is a combined vaccine that immunizes against tentanus, diphtheria and pertussis. It is a booster that all adults need to get. If you have not had a tetanus shot since 2007, you need a Tdap. If you don’t know if you’ve had a tetanus booster since 2007, you need a Tdap. But not all tetanus vaccines contain the pertussis component — some are just Td— so if you are unsure if your most recent booster was a Tdap or the Td, and you are having trouble verifying that information, you need to get a Tdap.
We are also working on several other clinics at other conferences and conventions around the country… and while the medical staffing and the vaccines themselves are donated, the clinics are not completely free to put together. We have to promote them and get our volunteer staff to the events, trips they often fund out of their own pockets.
So we’re asking again if you could chip in to help us save the world.
But this time, we’re also asking if you could chip in to help a friend. A fellow Skepchick Network blogger, who has asked that we keep her identity private, grew up in a semi anti-vaccine household. This blogger is working to get their vaccines up to date, while going to school full time. And she’s paying for these vaccines out of pocket. Her goal was to have the money to have them all up to date by the end of the summer, while sacrificing all else to attend SSACon.
So, as part of our fundraising for these clinics we are also raising funds to help our friend, a dedicated young leader in the skeptic and secular movements, finish receiving her basic recommended vaccines, which include chicken pox and meningitis, so she can focus on doing bigger and better things. If vaccinating everyone against pertussis isn’t your thing, then maybe you can help a Skepchick out.
To donate, you can visit our Chipin page, or use the widget below:
Featured image of a very vaccinated Phil Plait by Jamie Bernstein.