Immunize against the threat of pertussis to infants

Wednesday, 6/20/12 - 4:09 pm

Pertussis, a serious illness for infants and young children, is on the rise in Multnomah County. Health officers want you to protect your infant by making sure everyone around them—parents, children, teens and other adults—are up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccine.

Why Adults Should Get Immunized

The best way to protect infants against pertussis is by immunizing the people around them. Although infants can start the pertussis vaccine series at 2 months of age, protection doesn’t really kick in until after the third dose, which is usually given at 6 months.

Is your family up to date? Check the recommended vaccine schedule»

Why Is this Important?

Multnomah County is currently experiencing case numbers 3 times higher than they were at this time last year. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease known for its long fits of uncontrollable coughing (it has been called the 100-day cough). It can affect people at any age and occur at any time of the year.

We’re most concerned with pregnant women in their third trimester, newborns and very young children getting sick with pertussis. For adults, pertussis is highly unpleasant—people can be miserable for many weeks. In infants and young children, it can cause major complications that may require hospitalization due to pneumonia, vomiting with coughing, inability to breathe, middle ear infection, sleep disturbance,  dehydration, seizures, and other very serious health concerns.

What You Should Do

  • Get your family vaccinated to protect those who are vulnerable. This includes older siblings, grandparents and teens that babysit or are parents themselves.
  • Educate yourself about pertussis. Be sure to listen to the sound of pertussis to recognize it if it is present.
  • Call your provider or local pharmacy for an immunization appointment. Low-cost whooping cough vaccines for children and adults are also available from many community health care centers and clinics.
  • If you don't have insurance or are underinsured, call the Multnomah County Health Department at 503-988-3406. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.
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