A whooping cough outbreak is sweeping through the Prince Albert area.

The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region says they are working alongside Health Canada and surrounding First Nation communities, coordinating a response to the outbreak.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious and highly contagious infection of the lungs and throat. People can get the infection at any time in their life, but children who have not been immunized tend to get sicker than older children or adults.

“Our immediate focus is to bring children and adults up-to-date with the pertussis vaccine,” said Dr. Khami Chokani, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region’s medical health officer. “It is also important for parents and other caregivers to check their immunization status. In order to help contain the virus, it is important for everyone who can to be immunized.”

According to the health region, it is especially important for people to get vaccinated, as the body does not develop immunity to whooping cough and a person can get the infection a number of times in their life.

“Health Canada is working with First Nations communities to promote the voluntary childhood vaccination program which ensures that children are up to date with their routine vaccinations,” said Dr. Ibrahim Khan, Health Canada’s regional medical health officer for Saskatchewan. “Health Canada is working with and supporting the efforts of affected First Nation communities in providing enhanced immunization services for prenatal women in their third trimester.”

Anyone who is unsure of their vaccination status is encouraged to contact their local public health office.