Why is whooping cough (pertussis) making a comeback?
Babies younger than 6 months of age and preschool-aged children are most at risk. Young infants (under the age of 6 months) often suffer from respiratory pauses and decrease in their heart rate, requiring hospitalization – including intensive care unit admission. Death may occur, mainly in the youngest.
Recent cases in Canada
Why is this infectious disease making a comeback?
There are a few reasons:
- First, protection from the pertussis vaccine wears off, making people vulnerable. Although teens get vaccinated in grade 9 (secondary III), most adults don't get boosters; so they can get and spread the disease. The problem with pertussis is that it is usually benign in adults and thus, does not get diagnosed.
- Also, infants start their vaccination series at two months but are not fully protected until they get their third shot. That being said, they are vulnerable to catch whooping cough from siblings, parents and caretakers who might not even know they have it.
How to protect your family
- Have all infants fully vaccinated with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) and do not delay vaccination, as infants remain at risk for longer periods of time..
- All adults, in particular those who have contacts with young children, should get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster. It's for kids 11-12 years old; everyone who has contact with pregnant women or infants; women of child-bearing age, before or immediately after pregnancy; and everyone 64 or older who has not had a booster within the past 10 years.