Oct 28, 2012

Let's Talk Vaccines

Last week, Casey got vaccinated against the flu and against whooping cough.
Everyone (should) know that if you are going to spend time with an infant you need to have a flu vaccine. Babies (especially preemies) don't have developed enough immune systems to fight it and they can't get the vaccine. But you can!
Less well known is the need for Tdap. This is a combined vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough). Everyone should be getting a booster for this every five-ten years, BUT some doctors only give a TD booster which doesn't include vaccination against whooping cough. In fact, the CDC reports that less than 8% of adults have a current Tdap booster!
The American Academy of Pediactrics (AAP) and the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) both advise that anyone who will be in contact with an infant update their Tdap, regardless of the last time it was given. From the AAP: "A single dose should be given to adults who have contact with infants even if they are older than 65." Whooping cough is a serious illness that can be fatal to infants and so every precaution should be taken.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains what pertussis is:

"Whooping cough—or pertussis—is a very serious respiratory (in the lungs and breathing tubes) infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. It causes violent coughing you can’t stop. Whooping cough is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly."

The CDC continues:

"More than half of babies younger than 1 year who get the disease need care in the hospital. About 1 out of 5 babies and children with whooping cough will get pneumonia (a serious lung infection). Whooping cough can also cause seizures (jerking or staring) and brain damage."

There are numerous real life stories of preventable infant death from whooping cough. And, this year is a particularly bad year for whooping cough. The CDC is estimating this year will see the most reported pertussis cases on record since 1959 and potentially the most deaths as well (source). Texas has been hit pretty hard, and DFW is not immune.
Babies can't get their first of the immunization shots until they are two months old and aren't fully vaccinated until they have completed the whole series of vaccines. So, the only way to prevent whooping cough in infants is through a practice called cocooning:

"Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a strategy called "Cocooning" to protect infants against pertussis and other infectious diseases. Cocooning is a practice of vaccinating all close contacts of infants to protect the newborn from disease by keeping all those around them disease free—in this case, free from pertussis (whooping cough). Close contacts include mother and father, grandparents, siblings, other relatives who may come in close contact with the infant, and other caregivers and potential caregivers. Close contacts also include health-care providers."

So, Casey and I hope you will prayerfully consider getting vaccinated. Unless you are part of the 8% you probably need it, both for your own health and the health of any infants and small children you come into contact with. Getting the vaccine is easy and can even be done at CVS, Walgreens, or Target.
The Ps would really appreciate if you would look out for them, because they are too small to look out for themselves.

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