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September 27, 2004
For immediate release

Island Students Have Opportunity to Participate in Research Study for Whooping Cough Vaccine

Health and Social Services

Approximately 18,000 students will be invited to participate in a research study for a whooping cough vaccine over the next few weeks, Chief Health Officer Dr. Lamont Sweet announced today. Students in Grades 3 to 9, 11, and 12 will be eligible to participate.

Whooping cough is an illness which can be severe, particularly in young children, and can affect children, adolescents, or adults of any age. The old whooping cough vaccine used prior to 1997 in Prince Edward Island did not provide 100 per cent protection against whooping cough and resulted in a number of reactions. In 1997, a new whooping cough vaccine became available for children under 7 years of age with many fewer and less severe reactions being noted.

“Outbreaks of whooping cough have occurred in PEI in 1993, 1996, and over the past 18 months. However, the new vaccine we started using in 1997 has resulted in fewer cases of whooping cough among children under seven years of age. Because they have not received the new vaccine, the number of cases among school aged children remains high,” Dr. Sweet explained. “This is a wonderful opportunity to do a catch-up vaccination campaign for school-aged children, and should reduce the incidence of whooping cough province wide.”

Dr. Sweet stated that the vaccination the children will receive has already been licensed for children under the age of seven and everyone between the ages of 11 to 54.

“The intent of the study is to record the number and types of reactions in school children who have not received a whooping cough booster in a number of years. Each child will be given a digital thermometer, a ruler, and diaries in which to record their reactions to the needle. They will also be able to record their information on a special Web site. The information will be sent to Dr. Scott Halperin, Head of Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, and his team for interpretation.”

The booster vaccine containing the whooping cough protection also contains protection against tetanus and diphtheria. Previously it was considered that this booster could not be given in a period less than 10 years after the last booster because it would cause too sore an arm and high fevers. However, it is now felt that the new vaccine booster can be safely given to those who have received a booster of the vaccine as recent as two years ago.

Most Grade 10 students will not be eligible to participate in the study, as last year a booster containing this whooping cough vaccine was provided to students in Grade 9. In this research study, the vaccine will be offered to all students from Grade 3 to 12 who have not received the vaccine last year.

Study information is being sent home with all eligible students. For further questions, please contact the Department of Health and Social Services at 902-368-4996 or call the Adacel study toll free number, 1-866-891-4334.

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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