Fraser Health is calling on all adults and youth who are in regular contact with young children to get free whooping cough vaccines.
The local health authority issued the vaccination call Thursday, in light of the fact that more than 140 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the last three months.
Though the majority of those cases have been reported in the Fraser Valley, there is concern that the outbreak is spreading west.
"The best protection against whooping cough is to get vaccinated," said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Fraser Health's chief medical health officer, in a press release.
"The booster shot is especially important for those who have or expect to have close contact with infants and young children. The vaccine that most people get when they are children only offers protection for four to 10 years, so there are many adults without adequate coverage."
Whooping cough is described as a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing that can last for months. The disease spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or laughs.
The symptoms typically appear about seven to 14 days after the bacteria infects someone.
The early symptoms are similar to those of a common cold - sneezing, runny nose, a low fever and a mild cough - though the cough worsens over the ensuing two weeks.
The disease can be particularly devastating for young children because of their smaller airways. According to Fraser Health, more than half of infants less than one year old who get whooping cough must be hospitalized.
In some cases, the disease is life threatening.
Free vaccine is available through doctors' offices and participating pharmacies for all adults and youth who have not had a whooping cough booster in the past five years and who are in regular contact with young children.
For more information, log on to www.fraserhealth.ca/ whoopingcough.
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