Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is currently spreading like wildfire through the U.S.—potentially leading to a record year, reports MSNBC. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 16,000 cases of whooping cough that have been confirmed so far this year, putting the U.S. on track to break previous records (and already ahead of last year’s reported 15,216 cases). Pertussis outbreaks have reached epidemic levels in 19 states thus far.
This epidemic-like outbreak of the highly contagious respiratory tract infection can be attributed to multiple factors. The actual vaccine was altered in the 1990s to lessen the side effects, at the cost of its duration and effectiveness. Additionally, babies less than two months old cannot receive the vaccine, leaving them especially vulnerable during an outbreak of this magnitude. Most children, 95 percent in fact, are vaccinated, though some parents choose to abstain from vaccination, leaving them unprotected as well. By age six, children who are vaccinated should have had five doses of the vaccine, and may require an additional booster shot in their teen years.
Many parents are unaware that they too need to be vaccinated, both to protect themselves and any infants they’re exposed to. In fact, only 10 percent of adults are vaccinated against pertussis. The CDC suggests that adults should get at least one dose of a combined diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine in their adult lives. Also, pregnant women can help boost their newborn’s immunity by being vaccinated further on in their pregnancy.
With whooping cough on the rise this year, will you vaccinate your child against it? Are you up-to-date on your own vaccinations?