Mahaska Health Partnership Encourages Pertussis Immunizations'
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and, in light of recent whooping cough outbreaks, Mahaska Health Partnership encourages you to get a pertussis vaccine.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is to get vaccinated. There are vaccines for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster for adolescents and adults is called Tdap.
“It’s important for adults to get vaccinated because they can spread this disease to infants who are not fully immunized,” explained MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy, RN, “Pertussis can be very serious and even deadly for infants.”
Pertussis is caused by bacteria that lives in the mouth, nose and throat and is spread from person to person through the air. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, it takes 9-10 days after being infected with pertussis to start showing symptoms.
At first, the symptoms will look a lot like the common cold, but will progress into serious violent coughs that make it hard to breathe and can be more severe at night. The coughing can cause vomiting and end with a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in after a series of coughs.
“The vaccine for pertussis wears off 5-10 years after the last dose, so it’s important to come in for another dose when you’ve reached that benchmark,” said Malloy. “Anyone who comes into close contact with a person infected with pertussis, regardless of age, should see their healthcare provider for an antibiotic to prevent spreading the disease.”
If you do become infected, reduce the spread of the bacteria by covering your mouth and nose when coughing, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding close contact with others. MHP participates in the vaccines for children program, for more information, call 641-673-3257.