Washington: Recent Disease Outbreaks Remind To Stay Immunizations

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Several recent disease outbreaks in Washington and across the country show the importance of keeping immunizations up-to-date. Three vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in the last four months in our state serve as an example that we can't let our guard down. They include whooping cough (pertussis), measles, and chickenpox.

Vaccines have greatly reduced cases of these and other diseases. As a result, many people aren't aware that such diseases can cause severe illness. When enough people stop getting vaccinated, some diseases that had become rare as a result of vaccination may begin to occur more frequently again. Staying current on immunizations is the key to prevention.


"We must all do our part to protect ourselves, our families, and communities against disease," said State Health Officer, Dr. Maxine Hayes. "Immunizations offer the best protection against diseases and are recommended at every age, from babies to school-aged children to adults."

While many people think of kids when they think of immunizations, there are several vaccines that teens and adults need - like the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) booster; influenza (flu); chickenpox; and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines.

The whooping cough booster shot, called Tdap, is recommended for people 11-64 years old. People in that age range should replace one regular tetanus booster with Tdap to improve protection against pertussis (whooping cough). Teens and adults often get a milder form of whooping cough, and are a reservoir of the disease. They can then spread the disease to babies and children who may not be fully protected and may be at greater risk of serious complications.

Getting the Tdap vaccine will protect the individual and help reduce the spread of disease in your family and community. This school year, kids entering sixth and seventh grades are required to get the Tdap vaccine. Although exemptions are allowed for medical, religious, or personal reasons, the best disease protection is to make sure children have all recommended immunizations. Children who are not fully immunized may be excluded from attending school, preschool, or child care if a disease outbreak occurs.