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Whooping cough is on the rise and parents have themselves to blame

Whooping cough is on the rise and parents have themselves to blame

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal to children. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. Whooping cough is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

Until routine child vaccination became widespread in the 1940s, pertussis caused thousands of fatalities each year in the United States. For the first time in nearly 60 years, communities across America are grappling with a whooping cough epidemic.

 The only way to protect the public from infectious diseases like whooping cough is to get vaccinated. Parents are not only risking the health of their kids, but are also risking the health of their communities by not getting vaccinated. 

Health officials recommend that children be vaccinated against whooping cough in five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the final one between 4 and 6 years. Then youngsters are supposed to get a booster shot around 11 or 12. The vaccine is not fully effective until all five doses are given. The whooping cough shot is usually administered in a combination shot that also provides protection against tetanus and diphtheria (the shot is called “Tdap”).

If kids are getting the shot, then why is whooping cough making a deadly resurgence in Texas, as well as in other parts of the country. In all of 2011, there were 961 reported cases statewide. Through April of this year, though, there have been 424 cases, including one that resulted in the death of a Dallas child.

Well, apparently many kids aren’t getting the shot. With all the hysteria surrounding vaccinations, more and more parents are “opting out” of vaccines for their kids. Twenty-one states, including Texas, allow parents to “opt out” for personal or philosophical beliefs and twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow opting out for religious reasons. When kids don't get the shot, they are rolling the dice. Hence, the increase in reported cases of whooping cough.

Parents, the disease is worse than the shot. You probably wouldn’t know that because you were vaccinated!

Despite all the evidence that vaccines are safe and effective (and do not cause autism), there are still people out there who will risk their children’s health over some misinformation from people who are not qualified to speak about this subject.

Parents beware — of infants younger than one who get pertussis, more than half must be hospitalized, and the younger the infant, the more likely hospitalization will be needed.

Of those infants who are hospitalized with pertussis:

  • 1 in 5 will get pneumonia
  • 1 in 100 will have convulsions
  • Half will have slowed breathing
  • 1 in 300 will have swelling of the brain and
  • 1 in 100 will die

There is something else parents should be aware of. The vaccine may lose its potency after just three years, not six years as previously believed, which could mean your children may no longer be fully protected to pertussis. Talk to your pediatrician about getting the booster sooner.

Adults need booster shots too! In addition to vaccinating children, anyone who is around infants (yes, that means you, grandpa) also should get the shot. You don't want to give your new grandson whooping cough, do you? The older people get, the more their immunity decreases, so it’s important for adults to get regular booster shots.

The only way to protect the public from infectious diseases like whooping cough is to get vaccinated. Parents are not only risking the health of their kids, but are also risking the health of their communities by not getting vaccinated.

Parents, talk to your pediatrician to be sure your child is fully vaccinated and be sure all the adults in their lives are also vaccinated. It’s ridiculous to risk this disease when there is a safe and effective vaccine available.

Austin Photo Set: jeff_whooping cough_may 2012
 In all of 2011, there were 961 reported cases statewide. Through April of this year, though, there have been 424 cases, including one that resulted in the death of a Dallas child.