Health officials at the Caldwell County Health Department (CCHD) have noticed higher than usual activity of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough” reported in Caldwell County in the past few months. In response to this increase in cases, CCHD is educating the community about symptoms and urging everyone to get the vaccine if they have not had the recommend amount of doses.
What is Pertussis/Whooping Cough?
Pertussis is a highly contagious, but preventable bacterial infection that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing lasting up to 10 weeks. The disease does not only affect children; adults can develop whooping cough and are often not diagnosed until later on in the illness.
Symptoms can include:
- Severe fits of coughing, including: rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched, “whoop” sound
- Coughing fits followed by vomiting
- Exhaustion after coughing fits
- Apnea (temporarily stopped breathing—usually in infants)
Symptoms can vary by the individual. Contact your primary care provider if you suspect yourself or your child are experiencing pertussis symptoms.
Who Should Receive the Vaccine?
Everyone needs protection from pertussis. Children under 7 years of age should receive five doses of DTaP. DTaP is a vaccine series that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. It is recommended that the DTaP series begin at 2 months of age, and continue at 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years of age.
The Tdap vaccine is what is given to older children and adults. Children 7 through 10 years of age should receive one dose of Tdap if they were not fully vaccinated with DTaP. Adolescents through age 18 should receive one dose of Tdap; preferably at 11 through 12 years of age.
Everyone 19 years of age or older should receive one dose of Tdap.
The Tdap vaccine is highly recommended for the following populations:
- Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant
- Anyone who has close contact with infants under 12 months of age (parents, siblings, grandparents, household contacts, child care providers)
- Anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease.
Pertussis vaccine (DTaP and/or Tdap) is available through all state immunization providers, including private health care providers and the Caldwell County Health Department. For more information on pertussis and vaccination, please contact (828) 426-8461.