A pilot immunization program introduced in 2009 is being expanded, with state officials hoping it will be successful in decreasing the odds of a whooping cough outbreak among infants and young children.
The Colorado Circle of Protection program, which began in Douglas County in 2009, is being expanded to other hospitals in the Denver metro area. The program was implemented as a way to increase tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccinations among health care workers and people who have close contact with infants.
In a statement released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, officials said the importance of expanding the program has been underscored by an ongoing whooping cough outbreak in California, which has taken the lives of nine infants so far.
The last reported whooping cough death in Colorado was in 2005, but more cases have been reported in September than usual, leading officials to be concerned.
The program provides free Tdap vaccine to hospitals to vaccinate health care workers, and coupons for free Tdap vaccinations for parents and close family members of small children. Beginning in October, Cherry Creek Pediatrics will be the first pediatric office to serve as a pilot office. The pediatric office will vaccinate parents of infants under a year old.
"By vaccinating family members and those who live or work around these young children, we better protect infants and young children," Joni Reynolds, director of the state's Immunization Program, said in a statement.
The program hopes to eventually expand across the state to obstetricians, additional pediatricians and emergency departments.
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