As of April 9, 2018, two cases of Pertussis have been reported in Alexander County. Pertussis is known as “whooping cough” because of the “whooping” sound that someone makes when gasping for air after a fit of coughing. Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more. Pertussis can cause serious illness in people of all ages and can even be life threatening, especially in babies. Approximately half of babies less than 1 year old who get pertussis need treatment in the hospital. The Alexander County Health Department wants to remind the public of how easily this disease can spread and the importance of getting yourself and your children vaccinated.
CDC recommends pertussis vaccines for people of all ages. The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for babies and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens, and adults. Babies and children should get 5 doses of DTaP for maximum protection. Healthcare professionals give a dose at 2, 4, and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and again at 4 through 6 years. They give a booster dose of Tdap to preteens at 11 or 12 years old. Teens or adults who did not get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose.
Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and spread pertussis; however, disease is typically much less serious in vaccinated people. Getting Tdap is especially important for pregnant women during the third trimester of each pregnancy. It is also important that those who care for babies are up-to-date with pertussis vaccination. You can get the Tdap booster dose no matter when you got your last regular tetanus and diphtheria booster shot (Td). Also, you need to get Tdap even if you got pertussis vaccines as a child or have been sick with pertussis in the past.
Pertussis spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. A person with pertussis can infect up to 12 to 15 other people. That is why being up-to-date with pertussis vaccines and practicing good cough and sneeze etiquette are so important (such as sneezing or coughing into your elbow and regularly washing your hands). Clinicians generally treat pertussis with antibiotics, which are used to control symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.
DTaP and Tdap vaccinations are provided at the Alexander County Health Department. Immunization Clinic hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1:00-4:30 p.m., and Fridays, 8:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.