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Sanofi Pasteur Donates Tdap Vaccine to Aid Storm Victims

SWIFTWATER, Pa., June 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, known as much for his prowess on the track as he is for his philanthropic activities and tireless support of critically ill children, has pledged his support of the Alabama tornado relief effort through the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation, which is sending diapers, toiletries, shoes and clothing for babies and children affected by the destruction. Sanofi Pasteur announced today that it is making a donation of 5,500 doses of tetanus-containing vaccine, including 500 doses of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) vaccine in Gordon's name to Direct Relief International to aid victims of the recent storms in the Southeast and Midwest.  

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Gordon has a personal interest in helping the storm victims as tornados in Alabama destroyed the homes of his engine tuner's mother and sister.  

For more than a decade, Gordon has been involved with programs aimed at improving the lives of sick children. He and his wife Ingrid Vandebosch are currently the national spokespeople for the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign, a joint initiative of Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes. The goal of the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign is to educate parents, family members and infant caregivers about pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough), and the importance of getting a Tdap booster vaccination.  

"The devastation throughout these regions is astounding," said Gordon. "I'm pleased that the baby products my Foundation is sending to St. Claire County, AL, and the much-needed Tdap vaccine Sanofi Pasteur is donating to Direct Relief International will assist those who have been affected."

Tetanus, which is also known as lockjaw, is a serious health risk following a disaster because unsanitary conditions raise the risk for people who are wounded or assisting with the cleanup efforts and are not up-to-date with their vaccinations. Tetanus bacteria, which are found in soil, can enter the body through cuts, scratches and wounds. It causes painful muscle spasms all over the body. It can lead to tightening of the jaw muscles, so the victim cannot open his mouth or swallow. Tetanus kills about 20 percent of people who are infected, but the disease is vaccine-preventable.

A tetanus booster vaccine is recommended for adults every 10 years. Two forms of tetanus vaccine are predominantly used in the U.S. -- Tdap, which provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and Td, which provides tetanus and diphtheria protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a single dose of Tdap vaccine for adults and adolescents.  

"It's a popular misperception that diseases like pertussis are a thing of the past," said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief International. "The fact is, in recent years it has made a strong and unwelcome comeback across the country. So, vaccinating with Tdap for tetanus protection has an added benefit – protection against the rising threat of pertussis. We are grateful to Jeff Gordon and to Sanofi Pasteur for their assistance, and for allowing us to continue to serve the affected communities as we heal and rebuild during this difficult time."

Access Family Care in Joplin, MO is one of the organizations that received some of the vaccine donated by Sanofi Pasteur to Direct Relief International.  "In the aftermath of the tornado, we recognized the immediate need to respond to the high potential of tetanus due to injuries sustained during the search and rescue, and clean up operations occurring throughout the city.  Thousands of volunteers have poured into the community particularly during the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, increasing our need for tetanus-containing vaccine beyond that which would have been required for residents," said Debra Davidson, PhD, Chief Operating Officer, Access Family Care.  "Our staff used their childrens' wagons to load coolers filled with cold packs and vaccines, and other medical supplies, going up and down the streets administering Tdap and Td vaccines, and distributing water and personal hygiene supplies last weekend.  We also coordinated our efforts with Joplin and Jasper County health departments and other medical facilities, and set up stationary sites at busy intersections throughout the city providing the immunizations to search and rescue teams, clean-up volunteers, and the community at large. As a result, more than 12,000 people in the Joplin area have received immunizations with tetanus-containing vaccines so far."

About Pertussis

Pertussis is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that is spread through the air by infectious respiratory droplets. It is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis, which is found in the mouth, nose and throat of the person infected with the disease. The milder form of the disease, which usually occurs in adults and older children, is often mistaken for the common cold or bronchitis and can be easily spread. The disease is usually more severe in babies and young children, who will often experience severe coughing that can be followed by a "whooping" sound as they gasp for air. Oftentimes, coughing episodes can be so intense that vomiting follows. Pertussis also can lead to other serious complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalizations and even death. Immunity from childhood pertussis vaccinations wears off over time, after about five to 10 years. That's why the CDC recommends that adults and adolescents, especially those in close contact with an infant, receive a single dose of a Tdap vaccine.  For additional information about pertussis and immunization, please visit

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes is the leading organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and through its premier event, March for Babies, 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 Direct Relief International

Direct Relief International is California's largest medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need. The organization has been among the world's largest medical suppliers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, has top charity ratings, including four-star and "top-notch" rating from Charity Navigator, and a 100% fundraising efficiency rating from Forbes magazine.

About Access Family Care

Access Family Care, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), provides pediatric and adult medical and dental care in Joplin and three other southwest Missouri communities.  ACCESS actively participates in the Vaccination for Children (VFC) program, recognizing the necessity to vaccinate against pertussis.  ACCESS cares for all persons including adults, children, as well as mothers-to-be, and accepts Medicaid, Medicare, insured individuals as well as the uninsured and underinsured.

About Sanofi

Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, 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 EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or

SOURCE Sanofi Pasteur; March of Dimes
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