‘Sounds of Pertussis’ Campaign Makes Times Square Pit Stop

SWIFTWATER, Pa. and WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Aug. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Sounds of Pertussis(R) Campaign motors into New York City today to rev up the third annual Pertussis Awareness Day with an array of educational and interactive activities, including the chance to join thousands of others across the country in the Race to Blanket America(SM) by designing a quilt square for the growing Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt. The Campaign encourages parents, grandparents, caregivers and others in close contact with infants to get vaccinated against pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – with an adult Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) booster, to help reduce their risk of getting the disease and spreading it to the babies in their lives.

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The Office of the Mayor of New York City has proclaimed Aug. 11, 2011 as Pertussis Awareness Day, which falls during National Immunization Awareness Month. The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign will host an exhibit today on Military Island at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. New Yorkers and visitors alike will be able to unleash their “inner quilter” to help raise awareness of pertussis and share the need for adult pertussis vaccination with family and friends. Exhibit visitors also can view the first fabric panel of the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, featuring the square submitted by four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, children’s health advocate and Sounds of Pertussis spokesperson, Jeff Gordon, and his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch.

“When we were expecting our first child, we were completely unaware of the threat of pertussis and the importance of adult vaccination to help protect ourselves. We could have gotten sick and easily spread the disease to Ella,” said Gordon. “So last year when Leo was born, we didn’t hesitate to get our Tdap booster vaccines. With the Campaign’s Pertussis Awareness Day event and the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt project, we have an important opportunity to educate others about the urgency of pertussis prevention in a fun and engaging way.”

The exhibit will offer information about pertussis and adult Tdap vaccination as well as a chance for visitors to play the educational “transmission toss” game. They also can take pictures with Perri Tussis, a giant costumed replica of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. Adults nationwide can participate and become Pertussis Champions by joining the Race to Blanket America at www.SoundsofPertussis.com, where they can submit a quilt square online. Visitors to the Campaign’s website can use a unique, interactive quilt design tool with a wide selection of colors, patterns, icons and text to personalize quilt squares and then share their digital creations with family and friends. For each square added to the quilt in New York and online, Sanofi Pasteur will donate $1 to March of Dimes (up to $10,000).

The quilt is the centerpiece of Sounds of Pertussis’ newest initiative, the Race to Blanket America, and serves as a visual reminder of how the adults closest to a baby can help create a “cocoon” – a blanket of protection – around the tiniest members of their family by getting an adult Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster vaccine. Babies don’t start receiving their own immunizations against pertussis until they’re 2 months old, and they may not be fully protected until they’ve had at least three doses of the infant DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine. During this time, they’re particularly vulnerable to the disease. That’s why it’s important for all the adults who are in close contact with an infant to help protect themselves against pertussis so they don’t get sick and spread the disease to babies.(1)

The quilt has grown from the first quilt square created by Gordon and Vandebosch in April to more than a thousand squares from individuals hoping to spread the word about pertussis prevention. Later this year, a fabric quilt will be created from the online submissions and displayed at Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital in Concord, N.C.(a) Only squares submitted before midnight on Sept. 1, 2011 can be included in the fabric quilt, so consumers are urged to design their square as soon as possible.

“Adult pertussis immunization rates are surprisingly low – estimates have shown only about 7 percent of adults have reported receiving the vaccine. With Pertussis Awareness Day, we hope to drive home the urgency of pertussis prevention,”(2) said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, senior vice president and medical director for March of Dimes.

“Through a community-building effort like the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, we are able to vividly illustrate a key point and help raise awareness of the importance of adult Tdap vaccination,” Gordon added.

(a) From squares submitted on or before Sept. 1, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. or up to 10,000 squares, whichever comes first.

Pertussis: Still a Serious Threat

Pertussis is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that is spread through the air by infectious respiratory droplets. It is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis, which is found in the mouth, nose and throat of the person infected with the disease. The milder form of the disease, which usually occurs in adults and older children, is often mistaken for the common cold or bronchitis and can be easily spread. The disease is usually more severe in babies and young children, who will often experience severe coughing that can be followed by a “whooping” sound as they gasp for air. Oftentimes, coughing episodes can be so intense that vomiting follows. Pertussis also can lead to other serious complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalizations and even death.(3, 4) In recent years, about 92 percent of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants younger than 12 months of age.(5)

Often considered to be a disease of the past, pertussis is in fact on the rise; in 2010, more than 22,000 provisional cases of pertussis, including 26 deaths associated with the disease, were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).(6) California declared a pertussis epidemic in June 2010. Throughout the year, more than 9,000 cases of pertussis were reported statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health. This is the greatest number of cases reported in 65 years and the highest incidence in 52 years. Moreover, 10 infants in California died from pertussis in 2010, compared to three in 2009.(7)

“It’s important that adults, particularly ones in close contact with babies, understand that pertussis remains a threat that needs to be taken seriously,” said Dr. Fleischman. “They need to be aware that the disease burden of pertussis is believed to be substantially more than what is reported.(8) This is because pertussis often is undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and unreported. Estimates suggest that there may be as many as 800,000 to 3.3 million adult and adolescent cases of pertussis in any given year.”(9)

Immunity from childhood pertussis vaccinations wears off over time, after about five to 10 years.(10) That’s why the CDC recommends that adults and adolescents, especially those in close contact with an infant, receive a single dose of a Tdap vaccine.(11) If you’re pregnant and have never had a pertussis booster vaccine, talk to your health-care provider about the best time for you to receive the vaccine, because there have been some recent updates to the recommendations. For the most current CDC guidelines, please visit (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/provisional/default.htm).(12)

For additional information about pertussis and immunization, and the relationship between Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes, please visit www.SoundsofPertussis.com. March of Dimes does not endorse specific products or brands.

About the Sounds of Pertussis

Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes are working together on the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign to help protect the health and wellness of adults and infants. The mission is to raise awareness about pertussis and to let parents, grandparents, caregivers and others in close contact with infants know how important it is to get vaccinated with an adult Tdap vaccine. Now in its third year, the Campaign sponsors creative, informative programs to educate the public about this serious disease.

At the heart of the Campaign is the Sounds of Pertussis public service announcement (PSA) featuring Gordon. The PSA utilizes the sound of a race car travelling more than 100 miles per hour as an analogy to illustrate how breath expelled by a child coughing could achieve the same speed. In the PSA, Gordon reminds parents about the dangers of pertussis and urges them to take the appropriate steps to help protect themselves and their families. You can learn more about the Campaign at: www.SoundsofPertussis.com.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes is the leading organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and through its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit www.marchofdimes.com or www.nacersano.org.

About Sanofi

Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us

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SOURCE Sanofi Pasteur

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