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Whooping Cough Vaccine Recommended for Adults

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?

10 Responses to “Whooping Cough Vaccine Recommended for Adults”

  1. Peter Schott

    Gonna have to check on this. I don't think I've had an adult shot for this, but this is the one I remember expiring. Time to update the records and thanks for the reminder that immunizations sometimes need to have a booster shot.

  2. miriama59

    This is the first I have heard about this. I don't have any health insurance and don't see how I can do this right now. This just gives me something else to worry about… 🙁

    • Meghan Harvey

      Since this is being considered an "epidemic" many school districts, health clinics, hospitals and yes, even local farmers markets (in my area anyway) are offering FREE shots. If your child is in school ask the office, otherwise simply call your nearest health clinic or hospital. You don't need insurance to get this shot, and in most places you should be able to get it free. 🙂

  3. Abbey

    I received the vaccine while at the hospital after giving birth. I was glad that they suggested receiving it at that time although I wish that they would have offered it to my husband as well. I think many parents don't get the vaccine simply out of inconvenience.

  4. Julie

    I haven't received the shot, but this is the first I've really heard of the whooping cough vaccine being recommended for adults. Thanks for the information because now I'll ask my doctor.

  5. Kenia

    I didn't even know there was a shot for this. Thank you for the heads up. I will be checking this with our family doctor.

  6. paulinemilner

    My doctor told me that whooping cough becomes much more serious the older you get. Children generally do well with treatment, but the same cannot be said for adults. If you have a compromised immune system, the risks for complications are even higher. I urge everyone to get vaccinated against Whooping Cough, it is worth the time investment.

  7. Susan R

    I didn't know about this vaccine, so I don't think I am vaccinated for this. Thanks for the information. I hope we can help stop (or at least diminish) this epidemic by spreading the news about adult vaccinations.


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