The whooping cough vaccine has been a rite of childhood for decades, but rising rates of the disease have health officials urging pregnant women and all adults who will be caring for the baby to step up to the needle as well. Continue reading
The Chicago Tribune reports that “whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection marked by violent coughing, has made a comeback in Chicago and in other parts of the country. Health officials are urging adolescents and adults — especially those who interact with newborns — to get a whooping cough booster shot.”
The Tribune points out that the Chicago Department of Public Health “has used federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 14,070 doses of Tdap vaccine and distributed them to 13 birthing hospitals to immunize postpartum women before they are discharged.”
So, if you or your adolescent child have NOT had your diptheria, whooping cough (pertussis), and tetanus immunization (dTap), even if you have had a diptheria and tetanus immunization (dT) anytime in the last ten years, now’s the time to get one.
You not only protect yourself from whooping cough (which is becoming far too common around the country), you also protect all babies under six months of age that you will be around.
In several of my past blogs, including two earlier this week (Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough and Parents who refuse vaccines put other people’s children in harm’s way), I’ve warned of the potential dangers, including death, that can occur among unvaccinated children. Now, we’re learning that children are beginning to die in California’s whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic. Unfortunately, there may be more in future days.
- (1) Be sure your children are up to date on all of their vaccines. If you’re concerned about the vaccine “scare stories” or “myths,” take a look at my blog series on “vaccine myths.”
- (2) Be sure that all adolescents and adults in your family get the Dtap (diptheria, tetanus, and acellular [purified] pertussis [whooping cough]) vaccine (even if you’ve had a dT [diptheria, tetanus] vaccine in the past ten years) — especially if someone in your sphere of influence is pregnant and you might care for the baby.
Here are more details from a MedScape report: Six infants have died in California in what looks like the state’s worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years. To date, the CDC says South Carolina is the only other state where whooping cough cases have exceeded the “epidemic threshold” — a statistical measure that means there are significantly more cases than usual for the time of year.
After declaring an official epidemic of pertussis, the medical term for whooping cough, California health officials announced a broadened vaccination campaign for teens and adults of all ages. Anyone who comes into contact with babies is particularly urged to get the vaccine — even pregnant women and the elderly.
“Teens and adults should be vaccinated, especially anyone who is going to have contact with infants who are too young for vaccinations,” CDC epidemiologist Stacey Martin, MSc, tells WebMD. “Those California deaths were all in infants less than 3 months old. They don’t have the benefit of vaccination yet, so we have to vaccinate around them.”
Infants get three doses of the vaccine but are not fully protected until after they are 6 months old.
Neither the pertussis vaccine nor natural infection gives a person lifelong immunity to whooping cough. Outbreaks tend to occur in five-year cycles, suggesting that immunity wanes within that time.
Pertussis is one of the diseases covered by the three-way DTaP (diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis) vaccine for children under age 7 years and by the three-way booster Tdap vaccine for older children, teens, and adults. There is no standalone pertussis vaccine.
Although a person needs a tetanus vaccination only once every 10 years, it’s not a problem to get the Tdap vaccine at shorter intervals. Adults who get the tetanus and Tdap shots within two years may have more redness and soreness at the place the needle went in, but no significant safety issues.
Whooping Cough: A Serious Disease
Pertussis is a bacterial infection. It’s named whooping cough for the “whooping” sound a person with the disease makes while trying to catch a breath between coughing fits.
The cough can be so severe that it causes broken blood vessels in the face, eyes, and even in the brain. But the main risk to small children is suffocation, said Dean Blumberg, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Davis, who has treated infants with whooping cough.
“Pertussis is a horrible disease at any age, but most severe in the youngest infants,” Blumberg said at a Monday news teleconference. “The reason is their airways are so small. When they get pertussis they cough, cough, cough, and keep coughing. The air goes out but nothing comes in, so they suffocate.”
The California vaccination effort may yet head off the epidemic. As of July 17, there were about 1,500 reported cases in the state. But time may be running out. July, August, and September tend to be peak months for whooping cough.
Vaccine Refusal Driving Whooping Cough Epidemic?
There’s indirect evidence that people who refuse to vaccinate their children may be playing a role in the whooping cough epidemic, suggested Gilberto Chavez, MD, chief of the California Department of Health’s infectious disease center.
Chavez noted that most whooping cough cases tend to occur in areas where the most parents exempt their kids from routine vaccination — a choice that California state law permits the parents of school children.
“We have noticed that to some degree [the epidemic pattern] matches counties where there is a higher percent of kids not immunized because of personal-belief exemptions [to school-required vaccination],” he said at the news conference.
For example, Marin County north of San Francisco has a relatively high rate of vaccine refusal. Marin County has the highest number of whooping cough cases, Chavez said.
That fits with a 2008 study that matched whooping cough outbreaks in Michigan with geographic pockets of families that exempted their children from school immunization requirements.
When children and adults in my practice receive a vaccine, I recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce discomfort, inflammation, or low-grade fever. Now comes a study that will change my practice. Continue reading
LifeSiteNews.com is reporting that a pro-life group, Children of God for Life, is calling on the Medical Profession to “just say no” to the newly US licensed aborted fetal vaccine, Pentacel, made by Sanofi Pasteur. On June 26th the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended the vaccine be added to the immunization schedule for children, despite the fact that moral alternatives have been used in the US for years.
My Take? Continue reading
This is the end of my 13-week series on Vaccine Myths. I hope the series has been helpful to you. Today, I’d like to address the fact that some people have questioned whether the use of fetal cells in the production of vaccines is moral and ethical. This question is timely due to a news story just out: Doctors and Families Asked to “Just Say no to New Aborted Fetal Vaccine!”
Natural infection with certain viruses can weaken the immune system. So when children are infected with one virus, they can’t fight off other viruses or bacteria as easily. This happens most notably during natural infection with chicken pox or measles. Children infected with chicken pox are susceptible to certain bacterial infections (MRSA or flesh-eating bacteria, for example). Children infected with measles are more susceptible to bacterial infections (resulting in sepsis) of the bloodstream. But vaccines are different.
It is true that natural infection almost always causes better immunity than vaccination. In fact, only the Hib and tetanus vaccines are better at inducing immunity than natural infection.
Natural infection causes immunity after just one infection, but vaccines usually create immunity only after several doses over a period of time.
The Myth – Infants are too young to get vaccinated.
The Truth – It’s very important to make sure that infants are fully immunized against certain diseases by the age of six months. Continue reading
Despite what is often falsely reported in the media and at many scaremongering web sites, all recommended vaccines are extraordinarily safe.
When you consider that the 3.5 to 4 million children born every year in the United States receive more than twenty different vaccines to protect them from at least eleven different preventable diseases by the time they are six years old, and that some of these vaccines have existed for more than fifty years, I think you’ll agree that the record of vaccine safety in this country is remarkable. Continue reading