State whooping cough advertising increases vaccination numbers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State whooping cough advertising increases vaccination numbers

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Washington state declared a whooping cough epidemic in April and the Health Department is still working to get the word out about the illness.

The number of whooping cough cases shot up this year and thanks to state and local advertising efforts so has the number of people getting vaccinated.

Whooping cough awareness ads are popping up on almost every media platform as the state pushes to alert people about the dangers of the disease.

It's never fun getting a shot but it's necessary just like the ads to get people's attention about Washington's whooping cough epidemic.

According to the CDC, Washington has the third highest rate of whooping cough cases in the U.S. In Benton and Franklin counties, case numbers jumped from an average of six cases a year to nearly 150 cases this year.

"Since we've hit it from multiple angles and with the help from the department of health billboards and messages, we have improved our vaccine rates," said Heather Hill, Benton Franklin Health District.

Hill credits the whooping cough advertising campaign for the exponential jump they've seen in the number of vaccinations in Benton and Franklin counties.

"Having the department of health funding major advertising in our area was very very important. Without it those billboards wouldn't be out there because we do not have the funding," Hill said.

The Department of Health spent half a million dollars on whooping cough advertising this year, from billboards to Google ads and social media.

"Whooping cough is one of those issues that is out there but we have no normal funding to put out information about it so we had to look everywhere we could to find some money to inform people about this epidemic," said Tim Church, Washington Department of Health.

The money came from the governor's emergency fund, dipping into the state budget and federal dollars. Those dollars are making a difference.

"When we looked at our database as well as gathered information from insurance companies, it was very clear people were getting the word and many of them were taking action and getting vaccinated," Church said.

Washington's Department of Health has used up all the money for whooping cough for this year, but many media outlets offered to match the money they paid, to continue running the ads.