Whatcom County health officials are offering free whooping cough shots at four sites between June 4 and June 14.
The region has experienced epidemic levels of whooping cough since last October. The overall incidence rate to date in 2012 is 63.4 cases per 100,000.
In 2011, the rate was 34.8 per 100,000 with 68 cases reported the entire year.
As of May 24 of this year, the county has confirmed 166 reports of whooping cough, although most cases go unreported, especially in adults.
Nine of the 2012 cases are infants under 12 months of age. Five Whatcom County residents have been hospitalized, including three infants.
Also known as pertussis, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is particularly harmful to infants who have no immunity.
The “Tdap” vaccination is the best protection against this potentially deadly disease, according to health officials.
The Whatcom County Health Department encourages all adults, especially those who have contact with infants and school-age children, to get vaccinated.
The vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women in their third trimester.
Adolescents 11-18 years of age who are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, as well as uninsured and underinsured adults who live in Whatcom County, can get shots at the following sites:
-Blaine Schools, 1055 H St., Blaine, Monday, June 4, 3:45-6:45 p.m.
-Kendall Elementary School, 7547 Kendall Road, Maple Falls, Wednesday, June 6, 4-7 p.m.
-Ferndale High School, 5380 Golden Eagle Drive, Ferndale, Monday, June 11, 3-6 p.m.
-Mt. Baker High School, 4936 Deming Road, Deming, Thursday, June 14, 3-6 p.m.
For more information, call the Whatcom County Health Department at 360-676-4593.