Whooping Cough On The Rise

The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians is urging their physician members and the general public to vaccinate both children and adult patients for pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, due to rising numbers of confirmed cases suggesting a growing epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website; “Whooping cough — known medically as pertussis — is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria.”

In 2009, infants under age one were the highest category contracting pertussis, with the majority of those under seven months of age. This group is too young to receive the minimum of three doses of pertussis vaccine needed for protection. The majority of children, especially infants, contract pertussis from a parent or other adult they are in contact with, rather than from other children.

“Because the disease is so often spread to infants by those caring for them, the Academy is urging parents and adult care-givers to also receive the vaccination,” said Raquel Alexander, CEO of the Academy of Family Physicians. “While we recommend that our physician members discuss this with their patients, we are also reaching out to the general public to suggest that they confer with their family doctor.”

Pertussis is a prevalent disease in the United States. As such, there are generally outbreaks every three to four years. The CDC’s website explains that “the new ‘acellular’ pertussis vaccine, used in the United States since 1996, has a rate of both mild and severe side effects that is at least 10-fold less than that found for the ‘old’ pertussis vaccine. Because the pertussis vaccine does not cause death, the benefits of the pertussis vaccine clearly outweigh its risks.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have provided the Tdap vaccine to all local public health agencies in Colorado in an effort to encourage vaccination. There is no cost for the vaccine at the local public health agency, but an administration fee of up to $14.74 per vaccine may be charged.

by Leah R. Kaufman

Colorado Academy of Family Physicians
2224 South Fraser
Aurora, CO 80014
Phone: (303)696-6655