Immunize Children Against Pertussis
Responding to an increase in pertussis cases in Pennsylvania and nationwide, the Department of Health today reminded parents to immunize their children against this highly contagious and preventable disease.
Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
"Pertussis is a very serious disease -- particularly for young children -- but it can be prevented," said Deputy Secretary Michael Huff. "It is important to immunize your children on schedule to protect them and curb the spread of the disease. Adults can also receive a pertussis vaccination that could reduce the likelihood of an adult spreading the disease to children."
Making sure children receive timely vaccinations is the best way to prevent pertussis. Children should receive one dose of vaccine at two months, four months, six months, and between 15-18 months of age. In addition, one dose is needed before starting school. If you are unsure whether your child is properly immunized, contact your family physician.
Pertussis begins with cold symptoms including coughing that worsen over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs which may be followed by a whooping noise, vomiting or breathing problems. The cough is often worse at night.
Pertussis can be very severe. Although deaths are rare, they do occur. Children under the age of 6 months and people of any age with immunocompromised systems are most at risk.
If your child is coughing, see your family physician immediately. If diagnosed with pertussis, the child should stay home from school and not participate in extracurricular activities. Symptomatic individuals may return to school, child care group settings, or work after completing the first 5 days of an appropriate antibiotic regimen, but the full course of medication must be completed. Regardless of vaccination status or age, all household members and other close contacts should also be treated with antibiotics.