UC Irvine Healthcare is partnering with the Orange County Health Care Agency to offer free pertussis vaccinations to the community.

“California, including Orange County, is experiencing the highest rates of pertussis – more commonly known as whooping cough – in more than 50 years,” said Dr. Eugene Spiritus, chief medical officer at UC Irvine Medical Center. “State and county health officials are strongly recommending that people be vaccinated.”

A highly contagious bacterial illness spread by coughs and sneezes, pertussis causes coughing attacks that can last for months. Vaccination is the best defense against it, but immunity from the vaccine wears off over time, requiring “booster shots.”

Children and infants are most susceptible to pertussis, which can be transmitted by other household members. It’s estimated that 20 percent of adults with a lingering cough have pertussis.

Free vaccination clinics at UC Irvine Medical Center for individuals 10 to 64 will be held outside the south entrance to the Neuropsychiatric Center between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, and from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency recommend the pertussis vaccine for:

  • Anyone 7 or older who is not fully immunized.
  • All women of childbearing age. (Those in their first trimester of pregnancy should get vaccinated by their physician.)
  • People who have contact with pregnant women or infants.

UC Irvine Medical Center is at 101 The City Drive S., in Orange. For more information on pertussis, visit the California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov.

About UC Irvine Medical Center: Orange County’s only university hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center offers acute- and general-care services at its new 482,000-square-foot UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and is home to the county’s only Level I trauma center, American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. U.S. News & World Report has included UCI for 10 consecutive years on its list of America’s Best Hospitals, giving special recognition to its urology, gynecology, and ear, nose & throat programs.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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