Protect the children in your care from whooping cough

Parents and caregivers often are aware of the importance of whooping cough vaccines for children – and it’s just as important to remind adults that they need the vaccine, too. Increasing the Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccination among adults helps prevent the spread of disease and protects the most vulnerable, particularly young infants.

This effort is called “cocooning,” or vaccinating everyone who comes into close contact with an infant. Infants are most likely to suffer the most severe consequences of whooping cough, including prolonged illness, hospitalization, and death.

Reported cases of pertussis (whooping cough) are on the rise in Colorado and El Paso County recently. As of early October this year, 976 cases of pertussis had been reported across the state. El Paso County cases have begun to increase after the start of school, with 49 cases for the year this far. El Paso County Public Health is urging people, especially those who care for infants and toddlers, to get vaccinated in order to help prevent an outbreak in El Paso County.

The Pikes Peak Flu and Immunization Coalition recognizes this community-wide problem, and has partnered with state and El Paso County Public Health to conduct free Tdap and flu shot clinics for child care workers. The clinics will be held November 10 and December 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fire Department Headquarters, 375 Printers Parkway in Colorado Springs.

A substantial number of pertussis cases occur in adults (29 percent of all cases between 2009 and 2011 in El Paso County). Adolescents and adults with pertussis may have delayed diagnosis or not seek medical care at all, but are infectious and can spread disease within their homes, workplaces, or schools.

Pertussis is described as a bacterial infection within the respiratory tract that is easily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. After exposure to pertussis, symptoms typically begin in 7-10 days. The illness begins with sneezing, a runny nose and mild cough, but becomes more severe during the first week or two. It is characterized by coughing fits which may be followed by a high-pitched whooping, vomiting or a pause in breathing, and may last up to six weeks before gradually improving.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the vaccine for pertussis is given in combination with vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus. The recommendation for the vaccination is that a total of five doses be given in childhood at two, four, six, 15 to 18 months, and between four to six years. Single doses are recommended for children 11 to 12 years of age or for adolescents and adults who have never received the vaccination.

Take additional steps to prevent the spread of disease:

  • Encourage frequent handwashing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inner elbow and not hands when sneezing and coughing.
  • Stay home from work, school or child care when ill.

For more information visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

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Tags: County, El, Health, Paso, Public, Tdap, cough, coughing, pertussis, vaccine, More…whooping

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