Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is at the worst levels in the USA in more than 50 years. Health officials are calling for mass vaccination of adults.
"I want to urge vaccination for pregnant women and anyone who will have contact with babies. In many cases, babies get this illness from their mothers or others close to them. It’s absolutely tragic," said Anne Schuchat, director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at CDC. "As of today, nationwide, nearly 18,000 cases and nine deaths have been reported to CDC. That’s more than twice as many as we had at the same time last year."
This disease is highly contagious and is preventable by vaccine. It is spread through the air by infectious respiratory droplets. The nose, mouth and throat of the infected person contains the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Unfortunately it is often misdiagnosed as bronchitis or the common cold. It is also very easy to spread. Think how many times you've walked by an adult or older child coughing. Each of those times had the potential to be spreading whooping cough to you, and to your children.
This disease is more severe in babies and young children who develop severe coughing followed by a "whooping" sound as they desperately try to gasp for air. Coughing can be so severe that they vomit. It can lead to other serious complications, including death.
According to Minute Clinic "The best way to protect infants and young children is to vaccinate the adults around them. Pregnant women should be vaccinated so their babies are born with some immunity. People who are not vaccinated have eight times the risk of infection compared to people who are fully vaccinated against whooping cough, according to Schuchat. And if someone who’s been vaccinated does get whooping cough, the disease is usually less serious and they are far less likely to infect someone else."
For teens and adults the pertussis vaccination wears off after five to ten years, so they should get a Tdap vaccination booster. For kids to be fully protected, they should get all five doses of the DTaP vaccine.
You can get these vaccines from your physician, public clinic or from Minute Clinics at your local CVS Pharmacy. Some exceptions apply. Visit the CVS/Minute Clinic website. For more information about vaccinations visit this CDC link.