(Wampsville, NY – Feb. 2013) Another fitful night. A mom lies awake, listening helplessly as her child coughs and coughs. This mom knows tomorrow will be another day of school missed. Soccer practice missed. And for her, another day of work missed. She wonders wearily when it will end.
Pertussis – or whooping cough – is on the rise in Madison County. Pertussis has been diagnosed in children and adults ranging in age from 1 month to 50 years old. It is all around us. Cases of pertussis were found at local schools, preschools, daycares and a variety of community events.
Where will the next case be found? Your school, church or home?
Infants and Children are Most at Risk
Pertussis can be quite severe, even deadly, especially for babies under 6 months old, who are too young to be well-protected by vaccines. Babies often catch pertussis from parents, siblings and other caregivers who may not even know they are sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infants and children get diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 through 18 months of age. A booster of DTaP is given at 4 through 6 years of age.
Childhood pertussis vaccine protects most children for at least 5 years. The results from a recent large study show that DTaP vaccines do a very good job of protecting 4 through 10 year old children from pertussis.
Preteens and Teens Need Protection, Too
Pertussis has been on the rise in pre-teens and teens. Most children get vaccinated against whooping cough as babies and get a booster shot before starting kindergarten or first grade. But protection from these vaccines wears off, leaving pre-teens at risk for infection that can cause prolonged illness, disruptions in school and activities and even hospitalization.
To boost immunity, the CDC recommends the Tdap vaccine for all 11- and 12-year-olds. Infants and young children, who are most likely to have serious complications from pertussis, can be infected by their older siblings. It’s important for pre-teens to get this dose of Tdap to protect themselves and those around them from pertussis.
Adults Need Tdap Vaccination
Because protection from DTaP fades over time, CDC recommends another dose of pertussis vaccine, known as Tdap, for adolescents and adults. The Tdap vaccine is a booster shot combining protection against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria. Adults who did not receive Tdap as preteens should get one dose now. By protecting themselves, older children and adults can form a “cocoon of protection” around the babies in their lives that may be too young to be fully protected by DTaP vaccine.
Tdap Every Pregnancy Protects Every Baby
Protection can start before a baby is even born. Pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This will protect Mom, so she won’t spread pertussis to her newborn, and some protection will also be passed on to her baby. Protect yourself and help keep your baby safe. Tdap is a safe vaccine recommended for all pregnant women, for every pregnancy.
Grandparents Can Help Protect Against Pertussis
The arrival of a new grandchild is a time of great joy and pride. But before you cuddle with your new, little bundle, it’s important to get a Tdap vaccine. Babies who get whooping cough often catch it from family members, including grandparents, who may not even know that they have it.
That’s why it’s important that parents, grandparents and other family members get a Tdap shot to prevent getting – and spreading – pertussis to those they love. You and your new grandchild have so many special moments ahead of you.
Pertussis spreads easily and can cause severe illness and even death. Vaccines are the best way to prevent whooping cough. In addition, people who do catch whooping cough after being vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease.
Protect your selves, your family and our community against pertussis. Talk to your doctor about getting yourself and your children vaccinated.
For more information on this and other vaccines, contact the Madison County Health Department at 366-2848 or visit www.healthymadisoncounty.org.