We’ve all seen the commercials over the last year or two trying to raise awareness of whooping cough (also known as pertussis). Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. Though in infants have been getting a whooping cough vaccine since the 1940s it’s only since 2005 that a vaccine for adolescents and adults has been licensed.
Now the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is gradually adding groups of adults to its recommendation. The most recent recommendation now means all adults should get at least one dose.
A whooping cough epidemic in California contributed to the push to vaccinate more adults. That 2010 epidemic infected 9,000 people and killed ten babies. According to the CDC there were close to 28,000 cases of whooping cough in 2010. Twenty-seven resulting in deaths, twenty-five of those deaths were in children younger than 1 year old.
This is fairly new information for me, considering my children were born in 2003 and 2005, before the adult vaccine was licensed and the push for adult vaccinations started. Now my children have long since passed the infant stage, and both are completely caught up on their vaccines. But, I see the worry in my friend’s faces when they talk about whooping cough.
“The original shot only lasts 10 years,” Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City said. “Adults are often carriers or spreaders with low-grade or full-blown infections, which can be passed on to infants,” Siegel said. “The pertussis vaccine can be given as part of the Tdap series every 10 years.”
What about you? Have YOU received an adult whopping cough vaccine?