Author: Dr. A www.AfterHoursHealth.com
Whooping cough, or pertussis, has received a lot of media attention recently because of an outbreak in certain states, California, Michigan, and Ohio, for example. Many states are either requiring vaccination or highly recommending that people receive the vaccination, as a way to combat the spread. But what is whooping cough, and what does the vaccine do? Dr A tells us everything we need to know. For more information or to get the vaccine after you get off of work, contact www.AfterHoursHealth.com. Or check out all Dr A’s blogs here.
What is the fuss about the whooping cough vaccine all about?
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a respiratory infection cause by a bacterium named Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough has been resurgent, especially in California, in the last two years. There were nearly 10,000 cases in 2010, and 10 infant deaths, in California in 2010 from whooping cough. We are on a similar pace, if not higher, in 2011. Emergency room on your health insurance plan? Get a quote.
Whooping cough is contagious, and is spread in respiratory secretions by person to person contact. Symptoms can last for many weeks, and whooping cough is sometimes referred to as the “hundred day cough.” Whooping cough got its name from a characteristic whooping sound that occurs at the end of a paroxysm of coughing. It can cause sleep disturbance, weight loss, fatigue, and other complications which interfere severely with a person’s lifestyle and daily activities.
So it’s a public health hazard that can be deadly. It can also be debilitating, and can have impacts in the workplace, school and home. But, it can be prevented by the simple act of getting the vaccine for it.
In fact, California state law has recently mandated that all students in middle school and high school MUST have proof of being vaccinated before being allowed to start school this year. Click here for more information about health kids.
As state immunization chief Dr. Eileen Yamada says, students in public and private schools will need to show proof of a TDAP booster shot before starting school and that it’s very important to plan ahead, make appointments now, and keep student immunization records in a safe place.
Parents should check their children’s medical records to make sure they received the TDAP vaccine, which covers pertussis, and not just the TD vaccine which only covers tetanus.
Most students were last immunized before entering kindergarten, between ages 4 and 6, and immunity starts to wear off by the time they reach middle school age. That’s why it’s important to get a “booster” before starting middle school.
Youngsters between the ages of 2 months and 4-6 years get a series of 5 shots before being considered fully immunized. Adolescents and adults should get a dTaP booster. If you are not sure whether you had the dTaP or not, there is no harm in getting it too soon. If you think you have had it, make sure that it was dTaP, not just the tetanus.
Treatment of a suspected whooping cough case is with an antibiotic, usually erythromycin or closely related azithromycin (aka Z pack) or clarithromycin (Biaxin). An alternative antibiotic is TMP-SMZ, aka Bactrim or Septra. To get the health insurance coverage you need, get a free quote.