Pertussis: Whooping Cough

As many of you have probably read or heard, there is currently an epidemic of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the state of Washington, and numbers are on the rise in Oregon. According to the State of Oregon, as of June 11, 2012 there have been 380 reported cases in Oregon, compared with 119 cases during the same time frame in 2011. In Washington, there have been 2092 cases reported as of June 2nd compared to 154 during the same time period in 2011.

Pertussis immunization is included as part of the routine series of shots that are currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics for children. We administer the vaccine at GreenField in the initial DTaP series for infants and children that protects against three diseases - diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

In 2005, a new tetanus booster (Tdap) was developed for adults which contained a booster dose for pertussis because our nation was seeing a resurgence in whooping cough in adults thought to be due to decreased immunity in people who had previously been vaccinated years ago.

A single dose of Tdap is recommended for the following groups:

  • Children 7-10 who did not receive a complete series of DTaP
  • Adolescents 11-18 years of age (preferably at age 11-12 years)
  • Pregnant women after 20 weeks gestation
  • Adults 19 through 64 years of age
  • Adults 65 and older who have close contact with an infant and have not previously received Tdap

Both adolescents and adults should receive one dose of Tdap followed by a Td booster every ten years. Adults who have not gotten Tdap should be given a dose regardless of the interval since their last Td booster.

Pertussis or whooping cough causes a severe respiratory illness characterized with severe fits of rapid coughing which can sometimes end in a sudden intake of breath, or a “whoop”. The cough can be quite severe and can last for weeks to months. Infants and young children are the most vulnerable to this disease.

In its early stages, it often resembles the common cold. Unfortunately, antibiotics effectively treat the disease only when given in these early stages when it is often not recognized. This is why immunization is our most effective strategy to combat this disease.

We are making a concerted effort to make sure everyone is up to date on their vaccines, and in light of the rising cases of pertussis we would like to make sure that all of our patients are appropriately vaccinated. If you have not had a dose of Tdap, or if you are not certain whether you have, please give us a call or send us a secure message. We are happy to review your history and let you know what you need to do. We keep plenty of Tdap in stock. As always, should you have any specific questions or concerns, please speak directly with your GreenField clinician or physician.