A new whooping cough vaccine should be available at the Lawrence-Douglas Health Department in the next two weeks.
The agency will soon offer Boostrix, a booster shot for adolescents. The immunization shot against whooping cough - also known as pertussis - was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May.
"We should have this available soon, but some physicians in town do have it," health department spokeswoman Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin said. "People may want to check with their doctor first."
This is the first time teens and adults have had the opportunity to immunize themselves against whooping cough past childhood. The childhood booster shots usually begin to wear off at the age of 8 or 9, leaving older children susceptible to the highly contagious respiratory infection.
Whooping cough is spread by sneezing or coughing. Common symptoms include extended coughing spells followed by a "whooping" sound when a person breathes in. Vomiting also may occur after a coughing episode. The disease typically passes in four to six weeks, though a mild cough may persist for months.
The new boosters come to the market at a time of increasing outbreaks of whooping cough throughout the country, including Kansas.
"That's likely one of the reasons companies began to look into creating a vaccine," Tirol-Goodwin said.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials reported that there have been 141 confirmed and 166 probable cases of whooping cough this year.
In 2004, there were 98 confirmed cases and 23 cases were confirmed in 2003. Last December, the Lawrence public school district educated parents about whooping cough after cases began cropping up at West Junior High School.
Tirol-Goodwin said local health department leaders decided to purchase Boostrix because of the number of cases of teens and adolescents with confirmed cases of whooping cough.
The cost of the Boostrix booster at the local health department will be between $10 to $45, depending on health insurance coverage.