By Richard Asinof
BARRINGTON – A total of 1,088 doses of a vaccine to protect against the spread of whooping cough were administered during a two-day clinic held at Barrington High School on Jan. 12 and 13, Robert Marshall, a spokesman for the R.I Department of Health, said on Wednesday.
In addition, a total of 146 doses of flu vaccine were also administered.
To date, there have been 21 confirmed cases of whooping in Barrington, a community with a population of about 16,800 residents – up from the eight previously confirmed cases as of Jan. 12, according to health department reports.
The outbreak was first reported on Dec. 22, when a Barrington pediatrician notified the health department that a student had been diagnosed with pertussis, the technical name of the highly contagious bacterial disease, which can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
The agency said it was continuing to work with school officials to assess student immunization coverage rates and identify students with symptoms who may require treatment, as well as close contacts at home who may need antibiotics to prevent infection.
“Vaccination is the best prevention against pertussis,” said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health. “We are continuing to work with the health care providers and Barrington community to prevent the further spread.” The whopping cough outbreak, Fine continued, “will slow down and eventually stop once immunity, either through vaccination or infection, has been established in the community.”
The health agency said that its work is focused on increasing vaccination rates, particularly in adults and adolescents, and in preventing transmission to vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, infants and those with weakened immune systems.