Pertussis Awareness Takes Center Stage in Times Square With the Sound Off About Pertussis™ Song Contest Launch

New Public Service Announcement Featuring NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon Debuts for Pertussis Awareness Day

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., and SWIFTWATER, Pa., August 5, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign moves into action with the second annual Pertussis Awareness Day in New York City featuring a range of educational activities, including the launch of the Sound Off About Pertussis song contest and a new public service announcement (PSA) featuring four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon. The national public awareness campaign encourages parents to help protect themselves and their babies from pertussis—commonly known as whooping cough—by getting vaccinated with an adult Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) booster, which may reduce their risk of getting the disease and spreading it to their babies.

The Sound Off About Pertussis song contest is a challenge to write and perform the most creative and informative song about pertussis that incorporates the words “whooping cough” and/or “pertussis” into the lyrics. Individuals are invited to enter for an opportunity to win national exposure and a trip to the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR race weekend in November to perform the winning song on the Performance Racing Network “Up to Speed” stage. The winner will also receive VIP access for the race and an opportunity to meet Gordon. To learn how to enter the contest, view official rules and find useful resources about pertussis and the adult Tdap vaccination, visit

“Pertussis is a very serious issue, but through the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign and the Sound Off About Pertussis song contest, we can help educate people about the disease and, in a fun and memorable way, encourage them to get an adult pertussis booster vaccine,” Gordon said. “Many parents just don’t realize that pertussis is a real threat to their babies and that there are simple steps they can take to help protect themselves and their babies.”

Gordon, an advocate for children’s health and namesake of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital at Carolina’s Medical Center in Concord, North Carolina, and his wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, have joined the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign to give greater voice to this important health message. The couple is expecting their second child later this summer.

Pertussis Awareness Day Activities

In addition to the launch of the Sound Off About Pertussis song contest, the Office of the Mayor of New York City has proclaimed Aug. 5, 2010 as “Pertussis Awareness Day.”

Pertussis Awareness Day will include a Sounds of Pertussis exhibit at Military Island in Times Square (between 43rd and 44th streets on Broadway). The public can visit the exhibit from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to view the brand-new PSA featuring Gordon, participate in a pertussis “transmission toss” game and obtain information about pertussis and adult Tdap vaccination. 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.

“Many parents mistakenly believe that the pertussis vaccinations they received as children protect them for a lifetime,” Gordon said. “I was surprised to learn that the immunity can wear off in about 5 to 10 years, so I’m doing all I can to let parents and other adults know that they need a Tdap booster. This helps protect them from pertussis so they won’t unknowingly pass it on to the babies in their lives.”

Visitors to Times Square can take pictures with Perri Tussis, a giant costumed replica of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. As part of the event, the public also will have an opportunity to sing karaoke from the Sounds Track 4 Change™, a playlist of Gordon’s favorite road tunes. And even if they cannot get to Times Square, people can help make a difference in the fight against pertussis by visiting and downloading a song from the Sounds Track 4 Change playlist. Five percent of the proceeds from every song purchase will be donated to the March of Dimes for pertussis education.a

“We’re very pleased to be working on a campaign that continues the March of Dimes’ tradition of championing the health of babies and hope that Pertussis Awareness Day will bring much-needed attention to this serious condition,” said Dr. Alan R. Fleischman, senior vice president and medical director for the March of Dimes. “Since August is National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s also the perfect time for adults to make sure they and their families are up-to-date on all their vaccinations, including those against pertussis.”

Pertussis: On the Rise

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 by talking very close.1 In adults, symptoms are usually mild—pertussis is often mistaken for the common cold or even bronchitis. However, in infants and in 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.3 Pertussis also can lead to other serious complications, such as pneumonia and even death.2 In recent years, about 92 percent of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants younger than 12 months of age.1

The annual number of pertussis cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recent years is dramatically higher than in the past. In fact, in the past decade (2000-2009), the total number of pertussis cases reported to the CDC was approximately 150 percent higher than the total number of cases reported during the 1990s. However, reported cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Because pertussis often goes undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and unreported, 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.4

“There has been an increase in pertussis outbreaks reported across the country this year,” Fleischman said. “In California, for example, pertussis is now an epidemic. Compared to the same time period last year, the number of cases has increased six-fold. This is of special concern to families with infants. Last year, three babies in California died from pertussis; so far this year, seven infants have died.”5,6

In early June 2010, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a Health Advisory reporting that pertussis cases in the first 20 weeks of the year had doubled compared with the same time period in 2009, 2008 and 2007. Most South Carolina pertussis cases this year (51 percent) this year have occurred in children age 5 and younger, with infants under 1 year of age accounting for 36 percent of all cases.7

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.8

That is why the CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents between the ages of 11 and 64—especially those who have close contact with an infant—be immunized with a Tdap booster.1,9 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.10

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.

About the Sounds of Pertussis

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 to get vaccinated with an adult Tdap vaccine. 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.b

The Sound Off About Pertussis song contest also seeks to raise pertussis awareness by inviting entrants to write a catchy, informative song about pertussis that is up to 60 seconds in length and to create and submit an original video of themselves performing the song. Finalists’ song videos will be posted for public voting from Oct. 1-13, 2010, at Jeff Gordon will announce the contest winner on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010.

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS CONTEST. Contest begins on August 5, 2010 and ends on or about November 5, 2010. Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited. For additional information and complete rules, please visit

About March of Dimes

The 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 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

For Sanofi Pasteur For March of Dimes
U.S. Media Relations U.S. Media Relations
Lori Lukus Todd P. Dezen
T. +1-570-957-0717 T. +1-914-997-4608

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 Standard text-messaging charges may apply.


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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Disease Information: Pertussis. US Dept of Health and Human Services 2005. Accessed August 3, 2010.
  3. 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. Accessed August 3, 2010.
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  9. 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. 2006;55(RR-3):1-34. Accessed August 3, 2010.
  10. 10. 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. Accessed August 3, 2010