Pertussis or Better Known as the Whopping Cough Vaccine

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in News | 1 comment

Sneezing girlPertussis or whooping cough is a respiratory infection caused by a bacterium Bordetella pertussis and it is highly contagious. Initially, you may have cold symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and mild cough. In about 1-2 weeks, the cold symptoms get better but the cough becomes more severe. Whooping sound is made when the person takes a breath after the severe cough. People can get whooping cough at any age. Normally, pertussis is part of the childhood vaccine called DTaP, which includes diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years of age. Most children should be vaccinated before they start kindergarten. In 2006, a booster vaccine called Tdap was recommended for children 11-12 years old.

According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), there have been cases of pertussis in children 7-10 years of age in 2007. In the past year, increasing number of pertussis cases was found in children between 13 and 14 years of age who got Tdap. This indicated that Tdap is effective for the first 2 years. It also suggested the decrease in immunity from childhood DTaP after vaccination with Tdap. Researchers found that there are different strains of bacteria causing whooping cough and the vaccine does not cover all the strains. Therefore, some of the vaccinated people may still get pertussis during the outbreak. However, the symptoms seem to be milder and shorter duration in vaccinated person. The risk of getting pertussis in unvaccinated children is eight times higher than vaccinated children. Tdap vaccine is still recommended for pregnant women and people who are in close contact with infants.


Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.
Sources: cdc.gov, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, uptodate.com

One Comment

  1. If a newborn baby is exposed to a person diagnosed with pertusis, please speak with the pediatrician. Prophylactic antibiotic may be given if warranted.

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