Pertussis: What Parents Should Know

Pertussis has certainly been getting a lot of press lately, but what exactly is it? Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, and young infants are particularly vulnerable. It’s transmitted through close respiratory contact with someone who is infected.

Some of the first symptoms in adults and children include, a runny nose, sneezing, a mild, dry cough, and slight fever.

As of June 30th, in California there have been 1,337 cases of pertussis reported in 2010, including five infant deaths – in what seems to be the worst year of pertussis that our state has seen in more than 50 years.

To protect our community against the current epidemic levels of whooping cough, experts at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated.

In addition to the typical series of childhood pertussis immunizations, CDPH now recommends an adolescent-adult pertussis booster vaccine (T-dap). Adults who have contact with children under the age of 12 months, particularly new moms, are among those recommended to get the T-dap.

Please visit the Orange County Health Care Agency website http://ochealthinfo.com/pertussis for the most up-to-date recommendations and vaccine availability for you and your family.

Immunize To Protect Your Children Against Disease

It’s National Infant Immunization Week, April 24-May 1, and CHOC Children’s would like to remind parents about the importance of getting their babies fully immunized by age two.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infants and young children need to be immunized because the diseases prevented by vaccination can strike the unprotected at an early age. These diseases can be far more serious among infants and young children.

Although children receive the majority of the vaccinations, adults also need to stay up-to-date on certain vaccinations, including tetanus and diphtheria.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched “Protect Tomorrow,” an awareness campaign that educates parents on the importance of childhood immunizations. To view the AAP’s public service announcement, click here: http://www.aap.org/protecttomorrow/.

To make sure that your child is protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases, call or visit your child’s pediatrician to find out if your child’s vaccines are up-to-date. Also, check out these resources below:

For more on immunizations, and to hear what CHOC’s experts are saying, please click here:
http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?pageid=P02233

http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=450

http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&aid=295

For a schedule of immunizations from the CDC, please click here:
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/infants/rec-iz-babies.htm

Vaccines Are Necessary and Effective

An article published by the New York Times this week, reported that a new study found that although most parents believe that vaccines protect their children against disease, one in four think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children. Additionally, nearly one in eight have refused at least one recommended vaccine.

Vaccines are necessary — and effective, says Maria Tupas, M.D., medical director of the CHOC Primary Care Clinics. “For more than 50 years, vaccines have saved the lives of millions of children,” she says. “Most childhood vaccines are 90 percent to 99 percent effective in preventing disease. And if a vaccinated child does get the disease, the symptoms are usually far less serious.”

Dr. Tupas explains that the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been vigorously studied and disproved by extensive and well controlled studies, including those by the Institute of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control.  Current research on autism points to multiple factors, including the possibility of a genetic component or exposure to toxins or viruses during pregnancy. The increase in autism diagnoses may be at least partially attributed to pediatricians simply becoming better at recognizing symptoms at earlier ages.

As children with autism spectrum disorders benefit from early intervention and behavior modification, Dr. Tupas advises parents concerned about possible symptoms to contact their pediatrician.

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