Pertussis … commonly known as whooping cough … is on the rise. The Department of Health says kids and adults need a booster shot. That’s the sound of pertussis. Whooping cough. And it can be fatal in infants.
Director of the State Health Department Margaret Donnelly says two cases of pertussis in Missouri have been fatal in the past year; she says the biggest spike in cases has been in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
The vaccine wears off in five to ten years and small babies aren’t vaccinated until they’re 12- to 18-months-old. That means younger infants can catch the illness from older siblings or their parents. The department is urging them to get a booster.
Missouri has recently made it a requirement for all children to get a pertussis booster — or D-TAP — before going into eighth grade. Donnelly says many insurance programs cover the cost, and for those that don’t, there are medicaid and programs for the uninsured that will pay for most of it. She recommends speaking to your family physician about the booster or checking in with your local health department.
Some states, such as California, have seen as many as nine deaths attributed to whooping cough.
The Centers for Disease Control is pushing public awareness of the importance of immunizations, saying childhood diseases, like Whooping Cough, and others, are completely avoidable, with proper vaccinations. The final week in April is Infant Immunizations Week.
The CDC reports that with the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles, it’s time to talk about the importance of childhood immunization.
“With the rise in reported cases of whooping cough- over 21,000 cases in 2010-and 39 cases of measles already reported in 2011 , getting children vaccinated on time is still a necessary and critical cornerstone for children’s health,” the CDC says.
Experts say immunization is critical to children’s health, the safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines and the importance of parent, sibling, and caregiver immunization in order to protect children who are too young to be fully vaccinated.