Pertussis is bacteria that causes whooping cough. It is prevented through vaccination begun at two months of age. Until recently the last booster was given around time of entry to kindergarten. In 2005 a new booster (TdaP) was made available that can be given for middle schoolers and up, including adults.
Some areas of the country have noticed large increases in the number cases, especially in areas of decreased use of vaccination. This has been most striking in the last year in areas of Northern California and Southern Oregon. Marion County data for last year was just released and we are seeing an increase as well. In 2010 there were about 30 confirmed cases which is double 2009 numbers.
Pertussis vaccine is recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12-18 months old. There is a booster given at 4-5 years old. Middle school pertussis booster (TdaP) is routinely recommended at age 11 years old and then repeated every 10 years. Call our office to confirm that your child is up to date on recommended vaccines.
One group we sometimes forget about is parents of young children. Adults get pertussis very easily and then spread it to young children. It is young children who are most likely to be hospitalized or die from pertussis so close contacts should get vaccinated. Discuss with your doctor if you are unsure if you have been protected against pertussis.
To learn more visit CDC Pertussis page.