Start Your Engines: NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon Challenges You to Join the Race to Blanket America
Gordon and Wife, Model Ingrid Vandebosch, Team Up With Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes to Drive Awareness of Pertussis
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, announced the launch of the Race to Blanket America SM, a new initiative from the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign.
The goal of the Campaign and the Race to Blanket America is to educate parents, family members and infant caregivers about pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough), and the importance of getting an adult and adolescent tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccination. Pertussis has been on the rise in recent years and can be fatal to infants.
The centerpiece of the Race to Blanket America is the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, which symbolizes how those closest to babies can help create a "cocoon" - a blanket of protection - around the tiniest members of their family by getting an adult pertussis booster vaccination. 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.1 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 unknowingly spread the disease to babies.
Gordon and Vandebosch have waved the green flag to start the Race by creating the first square for the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt.
"Our quilt square design was inspired by our children, Ella and Leo. The bright colors speak to the joy they have brought to our lives and how strongly we felt about getting vaccinated with the Tdap booster vaccine to help ensure we didn't unknowingly spread pertussis to them," said Gordon, who, along with his wife, is a spokesperson for the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign.
"We hope that our quilt square will inspire other parents to not only participate in the creation of the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt by submitting their own square, but also to share the need for adult pertussis vaccination with family and friends," added Vandebosch.
Calling All Pertussis Champions
Adults can become Pertussis Champions like Gordon and Vandebosch by getting vaccinated, spreading the word about pertussis, and helping to create the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt. Visitors to www.SoundsofPertussis.com can use a unique, interactive quilt design tool with a wide selection of colors, patterns, icons and text to personalize quilt squares and can share their creations online with family and friends, thereby spreading the blanket of pertussis protection to an ever-widening community. Participants can also monitor the progress of the quilt online and revisit the website to view their personalized squares. For each square added to the quilt, Sanofi Pasteur will donate , to March of Dimes (up to ,000). Later this year, a fabric quilt will be created from the digital quilt squares and displayed at Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord, N.C.a
"When the adults in a baby's life get vaccinated against pertussis, they help to provide a cocoon of protection for the baby. It's just one of the simplest ways to help reduce the risk of pertussis for babies who are most vulnerable to this disease," said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, senior vice president and medical director for March of Dimes. "Our hope is that the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt will serve as a call to action for parents, grandparents and caregivers to talk to their health-care providers about pertussis and get vaccinated against the disease, if appropriate."
Pertussis: Still a Public Health Concern
Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is often perceived to be a disease of the past, but the need for more education, awareness and action is underscored by a resurgence of pertussis nationwide. In 2010, more than 21,000 provisional cases of pertussis were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of more than 25 percent over the number of reported cases in 2009.2
In fact, California declared a pertussis epidemic in June 2010. Throughout the year, more than 9,000 provisional 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 2009.3
In 2011, the number of new pertussis cases is continuing to increase. As of April 1, 2011, there were 3,253 provisional cases reported to CDC, compared to 1,971 during the same time period of 2010.4,5 Several states have seen a significant number of pertussis cases already this year, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.6,7
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.8,9 In recent years, about 92 percent of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants younger than 12 months of age.10
"Even if there isn't a large outbreak of pertussis in your community, you can still be at risk for the disease," said Fleischman. "Pertussis is one of those diseases that is always around. In some years we see a large number of cases and in others there may be fewer, but it is still transmitted person to person, so all it takes is coming in close contact with one individual who has pertussis to be exposed."
Immunity from childhood pertussis vaccinations wears off over time, after about five to 10 years.11 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. For the most current CDC guidelines, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6001a4.htm?s_cid=mm6001a4_w.12
The CDC also recommends that new mothers get the Tdap vaccination in the immediate postpartum period to help protect themselves from pertussis and reduce the risk of spreading the disease to their infants.13
For additional information about pertussis and immunization, and the relationship between Sanofi Pasteur and the 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, educational 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.
Additionally, every August, the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign sponsors Pertussis Awareness Day in New York City and distributes educational information to consumers about the disease. 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, 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.
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY). For more information, please visit: www.sanofi-aventis.com
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis Group, 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