Tallahassee. FL -- The Big Bend Immunization Coalition is proud to announce the three winners of its first vaccination poster contest for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccinations. Anna Gill, Raa Middle School, won first prize, a $100 gift card. Her poster will be displayed in Tallahassee - in doctors' offices and Leon County Health Department clinics, libraries and schools (PDF of winning poster is attached). Morgan Zettle, Montford Middle School, won second place and will receive a $50 gift card. Molly Creel, Montford Middle School, won third place and will receive a $25 gift card.
"With our safe and time-tested vaccinations, we can protect most people from these three horrible diseases," said Fred Williams, coalition chair. "Our coalition," Williams said, "asked 6th and 7th graders to tap into peer power to spread the message to students and their parents that teens need these vaccinations. Teens can really hit their mark as great communicators," Williams added.
Williams will present the gift cards to the winners during their respective award assemblies. The two Montford students will receive their prizes at Montford Middle School on May 24, at 3 p.m. The first place winner will receive her prize at Raa Middle School's assembly on May 31, at 9:30 a.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis can have very unpleasant and deadly symptoms. These three diseases are all caused by bacteria. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person.
Tetanus, also known as "lockjaw," causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness, usually all over the body. Tetanus kills about 1 out of 5 people who become infected if the muscles of the head and neck tighten so much that the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow or breathe.
Diphtheria can also interfere with breathing when a thick membrane forms and covers the back of the throat, and sometimes it leads to paralysis, heart failure and even death.
Before the vaccination was introduced the 1930s, pertussis, or whooping cough, was a major cause of childhood death with severe coughing spells that can lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and sleep disturbances.
The United States saw as many as 200,000 cases a year of diphtheria and pertussis before vaccines were available and hundreds of cases of tetanus. Since vaccinations have become common, tetanus and diphtheria cases have dropped by about 99% and pertussis cases by about 92%. However, physicians are again seeing an increase in cases, so new immunization guidelines have been released.
Children 6 years of age and younger get DTaP vaccine to protect them from these three diseases, but older children, adolescents and adults need protection too. Tdap vaccine was licensed in 2005. It is the first vaccine for adolescents and adults that protects against pertussis as well as tetanus and diphtheria. A Tdap vaccination is given only once replacing a Td booster dose which is recommended every 10 years.
For more information about immunizations, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines
The Big Bend Immunization Coalition is a local non-profit organization founded in 1994 by local healthcare organizations and concerned citizens. The group is committed to improving the health of the community by promoting vaccinations throughout a person's lifespan. For more information about the coalition, call Fred Williams, coalition chair, at 850-921-5554.