Friday, June 12, 2015

Whooping Cough in Washington: Protect Yourself and Your Kids

According to a recent King 5 News story, whooping cough is on the rise in Washington. Unfortunately, there have been more than 700 cases in 2015. This is a massive increase as one year ago, there were around 130 cases.

According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), whooping cough (Pertussis) spreads easily by coughing and sneezing. In a recent letter from DOH, parents and caregivers are urged to consider vaccination--especially those who care for young children and babies.
The letter states, 
"as a parent, there is nothing more important than safeguarding your child’s health. That’s why you should know the facts about whooping cough (pertussis) and the vaccine that protects against it. Make sure you and your family get the right dose at the right time." 
The dangers of whooping cough.
Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies. They can get it from adults or other children who have whooping cough. Babies can have severe coughing spells that make it hard to breathe. Whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Call your doctor if prolonged coughing spells cause you or your child to:
  • Vomit
  • Turn red or blue
  • Seem to be struggling to breathe or have noticeable pauses in breathing
  • Inhale with a whooping sound
How can I protect my child from whooping cough? 
The best tool for protection is the whooping cough vaccine. In addition to the vaccine, make sure that you and your child: 
  • wash your hands, 
  • cover your cough, and 
  • stay home and away from others when you are sick. 
It is especially important to protect babies and pregnant moms. If you suspect that you or your child have whooping cough, seek immediate medical care. 

Who should get the vaccine and when should they get it? 
  • Babies* get a dose of DTaP (diphtheriatetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis)) at 
    • 2 months
    • 4 months
    • 6 months
    • 15-18 months
  • At 4-6 years of age, they should receive a 5th DTaP dose. 
  • When kids are 11 or 12 years old, they get a dose of Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). 
*Newborn babies can’t get a whooping cough vaccine until they are 6 weeks old. 

The best way to protect babies is for pregnant women to get vaccinated in their third trimester, between 27 to 36 weeks. Adults that haven’t had a Tdap dose, especially those who are healthcare workers or take care of young babies, need to get a dose Tdap. Child care and school requirements Children entering child care or preschool must be up-to-date with their immunizations. 

When considering Kindergarten Readiness, think beyond your child's social, emotional and intellectual development. Consider their medical vaccination needs, too. In Washington State, it is required for children entering kindergarten to have 5 DTaP shots.

Where can I find the whooping cough vaccine? 
Ask your doctor, nurse, or local health department to find out more about the Tdap or DTaP vaccine and where you can get it. 

Washington provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids through age 18, available from providers across the state. Providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee to give the vaccine. People who can’t afford the administration fee can ask to have it waived. Call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or go to ParentHelp123 to find a healthcare provider or immunization clinic. 

For more information about whooping cough, visit the Washington State Department of Health at

No comments: