Doctors in York County are encouraging patients to be up-to-date on vaccines in the wake of a number of outbreaks of pertusssis, or whooping cough, in the county in recent months.
According to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the state’s southernmost county saw 25 cases of pertussis in September alone. Since the beginning of the year, outbreaks were reported in four schools and two day care facilities.
Kristina Beladi, a family nurse practitioner for Nasson Healthcare in Springvale, says the practice has been encouraging patients of all ages to get vaccinated for whooping cough.
“That it’s important to protect not only themselves, but those people around them, from getting it, because it is now outbreaking in our communities,” she says.
Beladi says since the beginning of the year, the health center has also been training medical assistants on talking points to encourage vaccination, and local officials hope that new state rules requiring booster shots for 7th-graders will increase vaccination rates.
Maine is one of fewer than 20 states that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children due to both religion and personal beliefs. Last year, Maine had the highest rate of pertussis in the country.