Whooping cough strikes again

A pertussis vaccination might not be as effective as previously thought.
Krystle Wagner
Oct 13, 2012


The Associated Press reported that researchers found the protection rate has fallen from 95 percent to 71 percent over the past five years.

Dr. Eric Houchin, a primary care physician for North Ottawa Family Practice, said the vaccine would lose effectiveness because it doesn’t contain enough protein to form with antibodies.

Pertussis — also known as whooping cough — is a respiratory tract bacterial infection, said Paul Heidel, medical director for the Ottawa County Health Department. Heidel said early symptoms include an irritating cough that becomes more severe after the first or second week.

Heidel said the infection can be deadly for babies and young children, and receiving the vaccination is vital to prevent spreading the disease.

“It is very important that all children be fully immunized, and also that adults receive the Tdap (booster) to help prevent the spread of this disease,” he said.

The pertussis vaccine is a component of the DTaP — diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis — vaccine. It is recommended for babies at 2, 4 and 6 months; and a fourth dose between 15 and 18 months, Heidel said. A booster dose is given between ages 4 and 6.

If a child wasn’t vaccinated when young, Heidel said he recommends children 11 and older get the Tdap booster.

Houchin said young children receiving the five doses would see an immunity-to-pertussis rate of between 60 and 70 percent.

Although the vaccine might not be as effective, health officials said they still encourage the public to get vaccinated.

“It’s worthwhile,” Houchin said.


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