Whooping cough (pertussis) is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordatella pertussis. Among vaccine-preventable diseases, whooping cough is among the most commonly occurring ones in Canada.
Whooping cough is making a comeback in Southern Alberta despite the fact that an effective vaccination exists for people of all ages. Already in Southern Alberta this year, 40 cases have been reported. This number is a drastic increase from the typical 1-3 cases seen. Amongst this years cases, the death of a 1 month old baby girl last months is a strong reminder of just how serious this infection can be for infants.
As the number of cases in Southern Alberta rises, we are reminding you to ensure infants and children in your family are vaccinated. Vaccination against whooping cough should occur at in infants at 2, 4, 6 and between 15-18 months of age. Boosters should be given to children between the ages of 4-6 and again between 11-12 years.
Its not just infants and children that should be vaccinated either. Adults need to consider being vaccinated against whooping cough too. Immunity to whooping cough declines over time, resulting in the need for booster’s to be administered later in life. The Centers For Disease Control recommends that pregnant women (not previously vaccinated) receive the vaccination during the third trimester or at the end of the second trimester. Additionally, any adults who will be in contact with infants who did not receive a booster of the whooping cough vaccine as a pre-teen should be vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to coming into contact with the infant.
Ensure your immunizations are up to date! If you or a family member requires a whooping cough vaccination contact the Lethbridge Community Health Centre at 403-388-6666.