Spike In Whooping Cough Prompts New Recommendations


The state health department is responding to a spike in whooping cough cases and is now recommending pertussis vaccines for more age groups.

From July 1 through November 13 of this year, 229 pertussis cases have been reported, compared to the 2007-2009 average of 77 cases per year during the same calendar period. These cases have increased the most in children 11-14 and 7-10 years of age, but smaller increases have been observed in other age groups as well. However, rates are lower in children less than 6 months old during that same time period the three previous years.

Pertussis during early infancy frequently is severe and potentially fatal. To listen to an example of whooping cough in a 3-year-old, CLICK HERE.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is recommending the following:
• DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) vaccination of all infants at 2, 4 and 6 months
• DTaP vaccination booster for all children at age 12-15 months
• DTaP vaccination booster for all children at age 4-6 years
• Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) vaccination booster for all adolescents at age 11-12 years
• Tdap vaccination booster for adolescents 13-18 years (who have not received a Tdap booster)
• Tdap vaccination booster for adults less than 65 years old

In addition, people who are caring for an infant or are a member of a household with an infant, should be vaccinated. This includes
• all adult infant care providers with Tdap vaccine including adults age 65 and older;
• underimmunized preadolescents (ages 7-10 years) with Tdap vaccine.

"Joni Reynolds, director the state’s Immunization Program at the Department of Public Health and Environment, said, “Pertussis is a highly contagious disease, making unimmunized or incompletely immunized infants particularly vulnerable. By vaccinating family members and those who live or work around these young children, we better protect infants and young children.”

Additional Information:
Reynolds explained that pertussis affects the airways and may be milder in adolescents and adults, especially those who have been vaccinated. However, pertussis can cause severe illness especially in young infants, and in rare cases can be fatal. Babies cannot begin the first of the three recommended pertussis infant vaccinations until they are at least 6 weeks old.
Since Sept. 1, the largest numbers of pertussis cases in Colorado have been reported from Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, followed by Pueblo, Boulder, Denver, Adams, Douglas, Weld and El Paso counties. For all these counties, the recent numbers of reported cases show a substantial increase over the past two years for the same calendar period. A number of smaller counties that usually report no pertussis cases for this time period have reported small numbers of cases since the beginning of September."

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