Whooping cough epidemic ‘not quite over’ in Washington state

By | November 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

Mary Selecky

I talked with Washington’s Secretary of Health, Mary Selecky, today about the whooping cough epidemic, the effectiveness of vaccines, and why the state was hit so hard. The full interview will air on this week’s edition of “The Impact.”

Selecky declared an epidemic in April as a record number of cases of whooping cough spread throughout the state.

Health officials recently announced the spread of the disease appears to be slowing, with some areas of the state returning to pre-epidemic levels. Washington state has already recorded more than 4,500 cases of whooping cough so far this year — the highest number of cases since the 1940s.

In a normal year, Selecky said the state would see about 10 cases a week. Now, the health department is recording between 20 to 30 cases a week. “So it’s not quite over,” Selecky said.

Selecky said there was no “singular cause” for the epidemic. Whooping cough outbreaks come in cycles every five to seven years, she said. “What we saw this year is that this bug was more virulent, or attacking more folks,” she said.

There’s also the problem of “undervaccinated” children who don’t get the full series of vaccine shots (all kids under the age of 5 have to get five shots), or children who aren’t vaccinated at all by their parents for philosophical reasons.

But there’s another reason: the vaccine may be wearing off too fast.

This summer, a team of federal scientists investigated the outbreak. They suspect that the current version of the whooping cough vaccine is weaker than the older version.

“The vaccine we’re using is very effective, but the question is how long does it last?” said Selecky.

An advisory committee is looking into whether another booster shot may be necessary to fill the gap. In the meantime, people should still get the vaccine because if they do catch whooping cough, the symptoms will be less severe if they’ve been vaccinated, Selecky said.

Here’s video of the interview with Selecky:

Budget cuts, taxes, meth and more

By | October 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

This week, the blog’s been slow because I was filling in for Jessica Gao on The Impact. But now, in just about 30 minutes, you can catch up on the week’s news. Enjoy.

Swine flu vaccines, MRSA update and more from Mary Selecky

By | December 3, 2009 | 0 Comments

Here’s the interview I did with Mary Selecky earlier in the week about the swine flu vaccine, MRSA and more:

Watch Mary Selecky on The Impact here.

Concerned about swine flu? More vaccines on the way

By | December 1, 2009 | 0 Comments

I just spoke with Mary Selecky, head of the state Department of Health, who said more H1N1 vaccines are on the way, and should be available by mid-January.

Right now, vaccines are given to those in high risk groups: Pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, etc. But in a few short weeks, Selecky said, there will be enough vaccine doses for those not in high-risk groups.

Tune into The Impact at 7 and 10 p.m. to see Selecky discuss rural health care initiatives.

“Inside Olympia” tonight: New Set, Swine Flu + Schools

By | September 10, 2009 | 0 Comments

Dept. of Health Secretary Mary Selecky and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn joined Austin Jenkins today at the TVW studio and broke in the new “Inside Olympia” set — looks sharp.  Watch both interviews tonight at 7 & 10 p.m.

Selecky said the swine flu doesn’t do what we expect in a flu in that it targets primarily young people.  People born before 1957 might have some immunity to the swine flu, as this breed of flu also made an appearance during the 50s.  Said while hand-washing and other prevention measures aren’t foolproof they do help, and people are paying attention: restrooms at WSU report being out of hand soap.

Randy Dorn talked about the Kent teachers’ strike, education funding, achievement gap and dropouts.  Said the first step in increasing ed funding may be the state paying for student transportation, which he’d like the 2010 legislature to address to take the pressure off local levies.  Also said his 4-year goal is a 3-5% decrease in the state’s dropout rate, currently estimated at 25-35%.