If you are the parent of an infant, or are planning to become pregnant in the near future, it is important that you be immunized against pertussis. Reports of pertussis (commonly referred to as whooping cough) have been increasing, especially among adults and adolescents even though they have received childhood vaccinations. It not only threatens adults and adolescents, but it also poses a dangerous threat to vulnerable infants.
In order to provide comprehensive medical care and protection to our patients, the pertussis vaccine is available for parents at any Pediatric Health Care Alliance office. We also offer flu vaccine when seasonally available (typically August – March). The AAP recommends flu vaccine for parents of children younger than three years, who are at high risk for severe complications from the flu.
There were 32,971 reported cases of pertussis in 2014 – a 28% increase from 2005.1 The greatest increases in pertussis disease are in the adult and adolescent populations. Most people are vaccinated against pertussis when they are infants or young children. Unfortunately, their immunity wanes as they get older. This leaves them susceptible to contracting pertussis and passing it on to others.
A recent study was conducted in 2015 to identify the sources of infant pertussis. Within this study, the sources were found to be:2
- A sibling in 35.5% of cases
- The mother in 20.6% of cases
- The father in 10% of cases
Although the source of infant pertussis is unknown in many cases, when identified, family members are often the reservoir of transmission. Vaccinating parents AND siblings is important to reduce the risk of infection in infants.
The danger with pertussis is that it can often be confused with other respiratory disorders. Symptoms may include runny nose, sneezing, slight fever, severe cough, vomiting, and exhaustion.
Please talk to your child’s health care professional to see whether a tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is right for you and the other adult and adolescent members of your family. To learn more about the vaccination of adults and adolescents against pertussis, please visit the CDC web site on pertussis.
Karalee Kulek-Luzey, MD
1Pertussis Cases by Year (1922-2014). (2015). Retrieved September 01, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/surv-reporting/cases-by-year.html
2Skoff, T. H., Kenyon, C., Cocoros, N., et al. (2015). Sources of Infant Pertussis Infection in the United States. Pediatrics, 136(4), 635-641. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-1120