Whooping Cough Vaccinations are for Adults Too

January 2, 2017

Start the year off right, no we’re not talking about resolutions today, we’re taking about vaccinations. Update your outdated vaccinations, especially your whooping cough immunizations if you plan to spend time with small children this year. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can be prevented.

To start, check the date of your last tetanus shot to determine if you received a pertussis vaccination as well, since those vaccinations are now given together. If contracted, adults can get as sick as children do, so vaccinations can help protect the children they come in contact with, potentially saving lives from a life threatening illness.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection known for causing a deep cough in children. Pertussis has been labeled as whooping cough because children cough so long and hard that when they are finally able to catch their breath, they make a whoopsound on the intake. Historically, pertussis vaccinations were only given to kids under five years old and always in a vaccine that contained diphtheria and tetanus. Due to an increase of whooping cough more than 10 years ago, an adult dose became available in 2004. Before that time, the recommendation had been for teens and adults up to age 64 to receive a one lifetime dose. As of 2012, there is no longer an upper limit on age, and the recommendation is that all adults should receive a dose of the vaccine beyond childhood, which again, contains diphtheria and tetanus.

The incidence rate of pertussis among infants exceeds that of all other age groups. The second highest rates of disease are observed among children 7 through 10 years old. Rates also increased in adolescents 13 and 14 years of age. And, the CDC has tracked a significant increase in outbreaks in Texas for the past two years. According to the CDC, 95 percent of the children in the United States are vaccinated while only 10 percent of adults are. Parents are well schooled on getting their children vaccinated, since children need five pertussis vaccinations by the time they are six years old, and a booster also may be needed by their teen years. Unfortunately, as the numbers show, most adults do not have an updated vaccination for themselves which can be extremely dangerous.

Do yourself and those around you a favor, start 2017 on a good foot, make sure your (pertussis in particular, but all of the) vaccinations are current!

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