Whooping Cough Booster Shot – Gotta Have It!

14 05 2012

(Welcome to the CDC folks again! Today they’re talking about whooping cough and the booster shot kids need.)

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.

This cough is whooping cough, also called the “100-day cough” because of its long duration. And the child? Not an infant, as one might expect, but a preteen, 11 years old.

Whooping cough—or pertussis—is a serious and very contagious respiratory disease that can cause long, violent coughing fits and the characteristic “whooping” sound that follows when a person gasps for air.

Whooping cough has been on the rise in preteens and teens. In 2009, a quarter of the 16,858 cases of pertussis reported in the United States were among 10- through 19-year-olds.

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 preteens at risk for infection that can cause prolonged illness, disruptions in school and activities, and even hospitalization.

To boost immunity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the Tdap vaccine for all 11- and 12-year-olds.

“It’s important for preteens to get a one-time dose of Tdap to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough,” says Anne Schuchat, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Young infants are most vulnerable to serious complications from pertussis and can be infected by older siblings, parents, or other caretakers.” For infants, whooping cough can be deadly.

“Unfortunately, the most recent survey shows that only a little more than half of teens have received the Tdap vaccine,” says Dr. Schuchat. “By taking their preteen to get Tdap, parents can protect their child and help stop this disease from spreading.”

Tdap is one of three vaccines CDC specifically recommends for preteens. The others are the meningococcal vaccine, which protects against meningococcal disease, including bacterial meningitis, and, for girls, the HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer. Boys and young men can get HPV vaccine to prevent genital warts. Of course, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older.

Preteens should also be up-to-date on so-called childhood vaccines to prevent hepatitis B, chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.

These recommendations are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

To learn more, visit CDC’s adolescent vaccine website or call 800-CDC-INFO.





My Son Battles Pertussis

30 07 2010

(Our thanks to mom and guest blogger Aleshya Garner.)

My name is Aleshya Garner. My now 10 month-old son, Peyton, is a pertussis survivor. At only 6 weeks of age he developed the disease pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

This disease caused my son to have severe coughing attacks, followed by the struggle to catch his breath, which caused him to turn purple due to low oxygen levels. During each attack, I listened to my son make these awful high-pitched noises, a sound that’s very common in pertussis. As a new mother, the first sounds I expected to hear from my son were soft coos and giggles, not the sounds of him gasping for air. I worried with every cough, “Will he catch his breath?” The only thing you can do is help him through it, with a calm tone, “please breathe Peyton, please breathe” while watching him turn purple.

We are not sure how Peyton got whooping cough, but it could have been prevented had our family been more aware that adults as well as children need booster shots. Just one simple Tdap shot could have possibly prevented Peyton and our family from experiencing this horrible disease.

Not only were we uneducated about pertussis, it took three trips to the ER for the doctors to finally admit Peyton into the ICU at our local hospital. During one of the trips, the doctor told us Peyton’s condition was caused by being constipated, so we were sent home. After being told many wrong diagnoses, they finally ran a pertussis test on my son. The test took about five days to culture. My husband and I were told for five days, by many different doctors, that there was no way our son had pertussis, even though Peyton’s pediatrician suspected it. They were sure it was the flu. The pertussis test came back positive.

I was told that because the hospital staff did not take proper precautions with Peyton’s “possible” pertussis, everyone in every department that he came in contact with was required to take antibiotics, after the pertussis was confirmed.

Peyton was discharged from the hospital after seven days on October 25th. At that time, we were only two weeks into his pertussis. This is surprising, given that resources I read say this disease can last up to ten weeks. Each day was a little bit better, as his attacks were not as frequent as they were in the beginning, but they were just as severe.

More and more cases of pertussis appear each day. A disease that we once just about wiped out is back. As a new mother, I thought “All I have to do is keep him safe from the flu…….” Boy was I wrong. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that my healthy infant son would have to battle with such a potentially fatal disease.

Why isn’t there more awareness out there about pertussis? Why aren’t we encouraged more to follow up on our booster shots to prevent another pertussis outbreak, to protect more babies like Peyton, and to save lives?

To all new parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, please from the bottom of my heart, get your booster shots. It is that important, and since there is little awareness, help spread the word about pertussis. You may never know it, but it could save a baby’s life.





Whooping Cough: California’s Preventable Epidemic

30 06 2010

Recent news reports warn that California stands to “…suffer the most illnesses and deaths due to pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 50 years.”  At least 5 infants have died of whooping cough with another 600 suspected cases currently under investigation.  Public health officials have labeled it an epidemic.

It’s easy to forget that before the vaccine was made available, pertussis killed thousands of people and infected hundreds of thousands each year.  Once a vaccine was developed, cases dropped by 99 percent, but the numbers haven’t stayed that low. In 2008, there were more than 13,000 infections and several deaths.

It is estimated that a rising number of families in California are choosing to avoid vaccinating their children through the use of a “personal belief exemption.”  Given this trend, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a resurgence in infectious diseases like pertussis.

Some basic facts about pertussis:

  1. Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects the respiratory system.  Symptoms can appear mild at first, including a runny nose and a mild cough. When in doubt, take your child to the doctor right away.
  2. Infants can become gravely ill very quickly.
  3. Symptoms may progress to rapid coughing (sounds like a “whoop” in young children) coupled with difficulty breathing. Infants can turn blue from lack of oxygen.
  4. Left untreated, pertussis can lead to bacterial pneumonia and, especially in infants, seizure, encephalopathy, or death.

How to protect your child from pertussis

  1. The best way to protect infants from pertussis  is to vaccinate them according to the recommended schedule.
  2. Immunity from pertussis begins to fade by the time we reach our teens, so it’s critical that adolescents and adults get the one-time pertussis booster in order to cocoon the infants and others in their lives who are not able to be fully vaccinated.
  3. Keep anyone with a cough away from your child.
  4. Wash your hands and your child’s hands regularly.

Protect your children by talking to your provider to see what vaccines are right for your family. To read more about pertussis, go here.

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CDC’s Pre-teen Vaccine Campaign!

13 11 2009

CDC wants folks to know about these educational materials, so we’re doing the viral thing and passing this blurb along.  Hope you do the same:

Pre-teens Need Vaccination Too!

With school in full swing and winter just around the corner, now is a great time for parents of 11 and 12 year olds to get their kids vaccinated against serious diseases such as whooping cough, meningitis, influenza, and, for girls, cervical cancer.

CDC recommends that pre-teens should receive the following:
• Tdap vaccine – combined protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
• Meningococcal  vaccine  – protection against meningitis and its complications
• Seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines – protection against seasonal and H1N1 influenza viruses
• For girls, HPV vaccines to protect against the two types of human papillomavirus that cause up to 70% of cervical cancers. Each year, almost 4,000 women in the U.S. die of cervical cancer.

These recommendations are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

One of two available HPV vaccines also protects against warts in the genital area, and boys and men up through age 26 can get this vaccine.

CDC’s Pre-teen Vaccine Campaign has educational materials tailored for various audiences, including Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American parents, available in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Visit the Pre-teen Vaccine Campaign gallery to download or order materials at NO COST.

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Whooping Cough Spreads Too Easily, So Vaccinate!

26 05 2009

silence the soundsWhooping cough sounds like something a pioneer child would catch.  Maybe from trudging through the dust behind her Conestoga wagon. 

No doubt there were plenty of cases back then, and not a darn thing they could do about it.  Now, there is something we can do, and if you’ve ever had pertussis (whooping cough), or watched a loved one go through it, you would get vaccinated as fast as the wheels of your car could take you to the nearest immunization clinic.

Pertussis is a highly contagious and potentially deadly bacterial infection that makes life absolutely miserable at any age, but is particularly dangerous for babies. 

The sounds of pertussis are like no other, marked by a “whoop” made when babies are gasping for breath after a severe coughing attack.

More than half of babies with pertussis are hospitalized.  Coughing can be so severe that it’s hard for babies to eat, drink or breathe and they can suffer from these complications:

• Babies may bleed behind the eyes and in the brain from coughing.
• The most common complication is bacterial pneumonia.  About 1 child in 10 with pertussis also gets pneumonia, and about 1 in every 50 will have convulsions.
• Brain damage occurs in 1 out of every 250 people who get pertussis.
• Pertussis causes about 10-15 deaths a year in the United States.

Pertussis spreads through droplets from the mouth and nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

Because it’s most contagious during the first two weeks of infection when symptoms resemble a cold, pertussis just zips through a household.  A parent, grandparent or babysitter suffering from what seems like a cold can actually have pertussis and spread the disease to the baby. 

Babies don’t start the series of vaccines that include pertussis until they’re two months of age, and they don’t get the final dose until they’re at least four years of age, although they’re fairly protected by the time they’re one year old.  But until then and particular when they’re under six months of age, no one should be around them who’s not received the booster shot as an adolescent or adult.

Half of babies with pertussis are infected by their parents.  Most unvaccinated children living with someone who has pertussis will get the disease, and 90 percent of pertussis-associated deaths have been among babies less than a year old.

This is why it’s so important for parents and other family members to get the pertussis vaccine themselves to help “cocoon” babies and young children when they are most vulnerable to the dangers of pertussis.