ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud VA Health Care System is joining with the Stearns-Benton Medical Society's Central Minnesota Community Immunization Campaign to help stop the spread of pertussis or whooping cough.

As of August 15, 595 confirmed or suspected cases of pertussis were reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. 48 cases were reported in Stearns and Benton counties.

Whooping cough is a disease caused by a bacteria that affects the lungs and can spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends vaccinations of children starting at age ten.

Dr. Susan Markstrom is the St. Cloud VA chief of staff. She says flu and pertussis vaccination clinics for Veterans are planned for October second and third from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in building 96 of the St. Cloud VA campus.