Pertussis Can Be Serious in Infants and Young Children

Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is stressing the importance of getting vaccinated for pertussis after receiving several reports of infants and children in the Miami Valley, being hospitalized with the disease.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.

Pertussis typically begins with cold-like symptoms and sometimes a mild cough or fever before progressing to severe coughing fits which can include uncontrollable, violent coughing and can make it difficult to breathe.

Infants and young children often catch the illness from a family member or other caregiver and are most at risk from serious complications. Babies with pertussis may not cough, but may gag and gasp instead, as well as have a symptom known as “apnea,” which is a pause in a child’s breathing pattern.

Seeking treatment when pertussis symptoms first start is important. Adults or children that are having trouble breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s Medical Director, Michael Dohn states, “More than half of infants less than one year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized and in rare cases, pertussis can be deadly.”

Immunity, whether from getting the vaccine or from having the disease, typically wears off within five years, leaving previously immune children susceptible again by adolescence. Individuals and families providing care to a new baby may need a pertussis booster shot to provide protection for infants who haven’t had a chance to get the full series of vaccinations yet.

There are pertussis vaccines for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis.

Who Should be Vaccinated?

The series of immunization starts at 2 months and continues at 4, 6, 12 months with a final dose before kindergarten.

7th Grade Adolescents
The State of Ohio requires 7th graders to get a “Tdap” booster.

Pregnant Women
Once during each pregnancy.

Once as an adult.

To schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, contact the Public Health Clinic at 937-225-4550.

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