Health Department urges individuals to stay up-to-date with vaccinations

BURLINGTON – The Alamance County Health Department has been able to provide the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccine through expanded guidelines for state-supplied vaccine to anyone in the community.  However, beginning January 1 that will no longer be possible.

In early 2012, the NC Division of Public Health expanded eligibility guidelines for state-supplied Tdap vaccine to allow for increased coverage as more and more pertussis cases were identified throughout the state.  The expansion allowed for anyone to receive the Tdap vaccine for free for a limited time.  The state’s expansion for the Tdap vaccine has been set to expire January 1.  The health department has a limited number of these Tdap doses remaining and will continue to provide them for free until January 1 or until the supply is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

“Tdap will still be available, but unless an individual meets certain criteria for free vaccine, we will begin billing their insurance in January,” said Christie Sykes, child health and immunization coordinator at the health department.  “We have been very fortunate to be able to give out over 4,200 doses of Tdap for free through the expanded guidelines, but we knew the expansion would not last forever.”

Sykes stated that adults who are uninsured and children who are uninsured or have Medicaid will still receive the vaccine for free in 2013. Adults and children who do not meet those criteria can still receive the vaccine, but the cost of the vaccine will be billed to their insurance. The cost of the vaccine will be $58.00 beginning in January.

“I am very proud of the work our staff and our community partners have done to protect the community.  We have been able to give a lot of vaccines to a lot of people through the state-supply expansion,” said Health Director Barry Bass. “But even with the changes, everyone should continue to protect themselves and their families by keeping up-to-date with vaccinations.”

Alamance County began to see an increase in pertussis cases in November 2011.  As of December 10, 173 cases of pertussis had been reported.  Cases peaked in December 2011 through February 2012 with fewer cases since then.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a Tdap vaccine, please call the Alamance County Health Department at 336-227-0101.