Racing Champion Jeff Gordon and Wife, Ingrid, Rev Up Awareness of Pertussis

Celebrity couple teams up with the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur to accelerate a national education campaign and launch Sounds Track 4 Change™

Jun 29, 2010, 08:20 ET from March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. and SWIFTWATER, Pa., June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Hearing the roar of an engine just before a big race may be music to four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon's ears, but the sound of a child with whooping cough is one sound he hopes never to hear.  Gordon and his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, are working with the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur to raise awareness about pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, as part of the Sounds of Pertussis national education campaign. The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign encourages parents to help protect themselves and their babies by getting vaccinated with an adult pertussis booster vaccine, and to make sure that anyone who will be in close contact with their baby, has also been vaccinated against pertussis.  

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The need for more education, awareness and action is underscored by a resurgence of pertussis nationwide. Through June 5, 2010, there have been 4,198 provisional cases of pertussis reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and several states have reported substantial increases in pertussis cases this year compared to 2009. For example, through June 5, 2010, Michigan and Texas have experienced more than a 50 percent increase in cases.  Michigan has reported 323 provisional cases of pertussis compared to only 208 cases through the same week in 2009, while Texas has reported 1,041 provisional cases compared to only 657 cases through the same time last year.(12)

"Even though Ingrid and I have a 3-year-old daughter, we had no idea when Ella was born that we needed a pertussis booster, and that without it, we were putting her at risk," said Gordon.  "Now, with a new baby on the way, we're not taking any chances – we're getting vaccinated.  I've already rolled up my sleeve, and Ingrid will get her immunization shortly after our son is born."

Pertussis is a highly contagious condition that is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which can spread through airborne droplets expelled from the nose and throat through a cough, sneeze or even talking very close.(1) In adults, symptoms are usually mild, and pertussis is often mistaken for the common cold or even bronchitis.(2) However, in infants and some adults, pertussis causes severe coughing characterized by the unforgettable "whoop" sound made when a person is gasping for breath after a coughing fit.(2) It creates a sticky, thick mucus that makes it difficult to eat, drink and breathe. The coughing fits can be so violent that infants cannot catch their breath and may turn blue.(2) Pertussis also can lead to other serious complications such as pneumonia, and even death.(1) In recent years, about 92 percent of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants younger than 12 months of age.(1)

"What many people don't know is that babies are most likely to catch the disease from a member of their own family.  In fact, when it could be determined how an infant got pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to them up to 80 percent of the time, and more specifically, parents were responsible 50 percent of the time," said Alan R. Fleischman, M.D., senior vice president and medical director for the March of Dimes. "It is vital that parents understand the risk of pertussis, as well as the protection that adult vaccination can provide."

Pertussis: On The Rise

Between 2000-2003 and 2004-2007, there was a 100 percent increase in reported cases of pertussis.(3-5)  Estimates indicate that there may be as many as 800,000 to 3.3 million total adult and adolescent cases of pertussis in any given year.(6)

"There have been pertussis outbreaks reported across the country this year, and California has just declared a pertussis epidemic," said Fleischman.  "Compared to the same time period last year, there has been a four-fold increase in pertussis cases in California through mid-June, with 910 cases confirmed compared to only 219 cases last year.  What's more, five infants have died from pertussis so far this year, compared to just three in all of 2009."(10)

In early June, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control also issued a Health Advisory reporting that pertussis cases in the first 20 weeks of the year have doubled compared to the same time period in 2009, 2008 and 2007.  Most South Carolina pertussis cases (51 percent) this year have occurred in children age 5 years and younger, with infants under 1 year of age accounting for 36 percent of all cases.(11)

While most infants are given routine diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) immunizations, beginning at 2 months of age, they may not be fully protected against pertussis until they have received at least three doses of the vaccine. During this time, they are especially vulnerable to pertussis.(7)

That's why the CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents between 11 and 64 years of age, especially those who have close contact with an infant, be immunized with a tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster.(1, 8) The CDC also recommends that new mothers get the Tdap vaccination in the immediate postpartum period to protect themselves from pertussis and reduce the risk for spreading the disease to their infants.(9)

Adults who received vaccinations when they were children may mistakenly believe that they are still protected against pertussis, but immunity wears off over time, in about five to 10 years, leaving adults vulnerable to contracting and spreading the disease.(1)

Sounds of Pertussis Campaign

March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur 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 and others in close contact with infants, know how important it is that they get vaccinated with an adult Tdap vaccine.  

In addition to educational brochures, the campaign includes components to directly engage parents in helping to educate their friends and families about pertussis prevention for themselves and the babies in their lives. Consumers can help make a difference in the fight against pertussis by downloading a song from the Sounds Track 4 Change™. This is a playlist of Gordon's favorite road tunes available at  Five percent of the proceeds from every song purchased from the playlist will be donated to the March of Dimes for pertussis education. (a)

To further the awareness of pertussis and support the March of Dimes, Sanofi Pasteur also launched the Dimes for Dimes campaign earlier this year. For each of the first 50,000 new people who "like" the Sounds of Pertussis on Facebook,, Sanofi Pasteur will donate 10 cents to the March of Dimes.(b)  In addition, in order to remind adults to get a Tdap booster, Sounds of Pertussis has created a special text reminder program in which adults can text the word "SOUNDS" to 292929 and  receive a text message in five days reminding them to get vaccinated against pertussis.(c)

The campaign will also feature a public service announcement starring Gordon, as well as print, online and educational patient materials designed for parents and family members available in many health-care provider offices.  Parents and other caregivers can learn more about the disease, hear the sound of pertussis, and create a personalized video message to post to their Facebook page by visiting Families who have been directly impacted by pertussis are also encouraged to visit the website and share their story about their experience with the disease.  The video PSA, which will debut in August, will be available online for downloading and sharing.

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

(a) For all inquiries or to obtain a copy of The March of Dimes financial filing form or a current financial statement, please call [914-997-4488], or write to The March of Dimes at 1275 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY 10605. Also visit for more information.

If you are a resident of one of the following states, you may obtain a copy of the official registration or license and financial information directly from the state agency listed below (the toll-free numbers are for use only within the respective states). The license is not an endorsement by the state.

Florida: Call the Division of Consumer Services toll-free, 1-800-435-7352 (1-800-HELP-FLA). Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state. Maryland: Documents and information submitted under the Maryland Solicitations Act are available from the Office of the Secretary of State, Statehouse, Annapolis, MD 21401, 1-800-825-4510 or 410-974-5534. New York: Department of Law (Office of the Attorney General), Charities Bureau – Registration Section, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271. North Carolina: Call the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 919-807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the state.

Obtaining financial information from your state may require additional fees. This purchase is not tax deductible. Regulations vary by state. For more information, please contact your state agency.

(b) Beginning April 22, 2010.

(c) Standard messaging charges may apply.

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading organization for pregnancy and baby health.  With chapters nationwide and 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 or

About sanofi-aventis

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).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis Group, provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccine in 2009, 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 EUR1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or


  1. Kretsinger K, Broder KR, Cortese MM et al. Preventing tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis among adults: use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and recommendation of ACIP, supported by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), for use of Tdap among health-care personnel. MMWR Recomm Rep 2006;55(RR-17):1-37. Available at: Accessed June 7, 2010.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pertussis. In: Atkinson W, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, Wolfe S, editors. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. 10 ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2007. p.81-100. Available at: Accessed June 7, 2010.
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  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pertussis vaccination: use of acellular pertussis vaccines among infants and young children. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep 1997;46(RR-7):1-25. Available at: Accessed June 7, 2010.
  8. Broder KR, Cortese MM, Iskander JK et al. Preventing tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis among adolescents: use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccines. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep 2006;55(RR-3):1-34. Available at: Accessed June 7, 2010.
  9. Murphy T, V, Slade B, Broder K et al. Prevention of pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria among pregnant and postpartum women and their infants recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep 2008;57(RR-4):1-51. Notes: Available at: Accessed June 7, 2010.
  10. California Department of Public Health Press Release. Whooping Cough Epidemic May Be Worst in 50 Years. Available at: Accessed June 23
  11. South Carolina DHEC Health Advisory.  Pertussis cases increasing, especially among infants. Distributed via Health Alert Network. June 8, 2010.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Notifiable diseases/deaths in selected cities weekly information 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2010;59(22):698 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Notifiable diseases/deaths in selected cities weekly information 2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2009;58(22):630.

SOURCE March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur