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Whooping Cough Vaccine

Whooping cough is on the rise in the U.S., so an additional booster shot of the vaccine now is recommended for older children, adolescents and adults.

Due to the increase in incidences of pertussis, or whooping cough, an additional booster vaccine now is being recommended because immunity to the disease wanes over time.  Dr. Subhash (Sue-bahsh’) Chaudhary, professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains why the additional dose of the vaccine is necessary.

SOUND BITE:    “Whooping cough used to be a young children’s disease, but with wide spread use of the vaccine, now we see two main groups -- very young infants, especially under the age of six months, where disease can be very bad.  And the other main group we are seeing is the older children and young adults, 10 to 14 years . . .”

Dr. Chaudhary says often when adolescents and young adults get whooping cough, they have a milder form of the disease.  The disease may not be diagnosed and they can pass it on to infants and young children, who are affected more severely.  Some infants can even die from whooping cough.  He explains the new recommendation.

SOUND BITE:    “. . . now we are recommending a booster dose at age 11 to 13 visit.  That is very important.  Otherwise as young adults, we can be prone to getting pertussis because immunity has waned.  And there are lots of cases of pertussis infection in teenagers, younger adults and older adults which many times does not get recognized . . .”

Dr. Chaudhary says individuals in the 11 to 64 age group should talk to their primary care physician or pediatrician about getting the whooping cough booster vaccine.  If you or a family member has symptoms like a common cold, which get worse after two weeks with serious coughing and a unique high-pitch “whooping” sound, you should see your physician.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.