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Consider Getting A Whooping Cough Vaccine This Year

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I was at a routine doctor’s appointment yesterday when I was told I was overdue on my Tetanus vaccination.  Ok, what the heck.   Let’s get it over with and I’ll be good for a few more years.  But then the Nurse also suggested that I get the combination that includes the Pertussis (or whooping cough) vaccination. 

At first I didn’t really think it was necessary, but the nurse urged me to because it’s been going around.  In fact after reading up on it, turns out the bacterial disease is making a comeback.  It was nearly wiped out in the 1940′s, and numbers of cases were relatively small until recently.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacteria that affects the lungs.   At first symptoms are much like the common cold.  You can spread it to the rest of your family and not even know how serious it is for a couple of weeks.  Then the worse symptoms appear such as:

  • The cough occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath.
  • Many children will make a high-pitched whooping sound when breathing in after a coughing episode. Whooping is less common in infants and adults.
  • During a coughing spell, the person may vomit.
  • The person’s face or lips may look blue from lack of oxygen.
  • The cough is often worse at night.
  • Between coughing spells, the person seems well, but the illness is exhausting over time.
  • Coughing episodes gradually become less frequent, but may continue for several weeks or months until the lungs heal.

It is especially dangerous to infants.  And with a baby due in just a few weeks, I’m glad I got one.

Want to learn more?   Minnesota Department of Health Has a great overlook of the disease.

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