Five hundred free Pertussis vaccines will be offered in Poly Canyon Village Plaza on Sept. 23. Stock Photo.

With an outbreak of whooping cough in the county, Cal Poly Health Center will be providing 500 free Whooping Cough/Pertussis vaccines on Sept. 23 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Poly Canyon Village (PCV) Plaza.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department website stated that since Sept. 14, “348 confirmed, probable and suspect cases” have been reported.  That makes San Luis Obispo county with the second highest amount of cases, just behind Marin County.

According to the Health Department website, “pertussis is a bacterial illness of the respiratory system that spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing.” Because of the contagious nature, the Cal Poly Health Center strongly recommended all Cal Poly students get the vaccine, even if living off campus.  The recommended pertussis vaccine is called Tdap and was introduced in 2005.

Due to the large number of cases and a recommendation from the school, the free vaccines would seem like an extreme benefit.  Yet, out of three students asked, all three said they would not be getting the vaccine.

Wynne Solomon, a wine and viticulture freshman, said that she would not be getting the vaccine because she “(tries) not to take too many vaccines.”

Graphic communications freshman Logan Spittler said he was unaware that the Cal Poly Health Center was providing free vaccines, and he “(needed) to do research” in order to decide whether he would be getting a pertussis vaccine at all.  However, when informed of how many cases there were in the county, he said, “I will definitely have to look into it.”

Amanda Rowlee said, when asked if she would be getting the vaccine, “Probably not.  I don’t like shots, so I don’t see a reason getting one if I don’t have to.”

According to the Health Department information line, pertussis is characterized by severe coughing lasting longer than two weeks, episodes of severe coughing or vomiting after coughing.  Some major complications can be pneumonia and seizures.  Pertussis is especially dangerous for young children and infants; yet, those who believe they have pertussis should avoid contact with others because of its contagious nature.

Also, according to the Cal Poly Health Center website, those with pertussis who have certain symptoms (vomiting; uncontrolled fever even with anti-fever medications; signs of respiratory distress including rapid breathing and turning blue; and signs of dehydration including weight loss, dry mucous membranes and decreased urine output) should seek emergency care.

If students do not decide to get the free vaccines in PCV, vaccines will be available at the Cal Poly Health Center for $36.

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