The Portland Metro area and Southwest Washington are reporting the highest number of confirmed cases of whooping cough in more than half a century. We asked Providence Health Express’s Lindsay Klepps about whooping cough and Pertussis vaccination (click here for a video interview with Lindsey).
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough is caused by Pertussis bacteria. This highly contagious disease causes severe coughing spells that can lead to breathing difficulties, vomiting, and inability to sleep.
The infection usually starts with cold-like symptoms - a mild cough or fever. But unlike the common cold, pertussis can initiate series of violent and rapid coughing fits that continue for weeks. Infants may have little or no cough, but instead experience life-threatening apnea - periods when they stop breathing.
Who gets pertussis?
So far in this year, more than 600 cases have been reported in Oregon, with the highest rates in two age groups:
Do adults need the vaccine?
Adults who haven’t had pertussis or been vaccinated against it risk infection, complications and spreading the infection.
Some vaccines require a booster shot to keep up your immunity. The Tdap vaccine does that for tetanus and diphtheria as well as pertussis. It’s recommended for people over age19 as a booster.
Who should get the Tdap pertussis vaccination?
All pregnant women
Caregivers in regular contact with small children, such as parents, grandparents and baby sitters
Adults who need a tetanus booster, because the combined Tdap vaccine used in this shot also boosts immunity to pertussis and diphtheria
How do I know if I need one?
If you’re uncertain about your last immunization date, know that Tdap is safe to receive no matter when you last received the pertussis vaccine.
Click here for the Tdap vaccine information statement from the national Centers for Disease Control.