James Gathany

We got our childhood immunizations, assumed we were protected, and we got on with our lives. Little did we know that we could be facing an epidemic that we could fall victim to. Even if you diligently got your vaccines, you can still contract this contagious disease. If you are an adult, and you haven't received a booster shot, you are susceptible because your childhood immunizations are not as effective over time. Furthermore, the vaccinations are very effective, but they are not 100%. Unfortunately you can still get this disease after being vaccinated, but your risk are markedly decreased. Learn more about how to protect yourself from contracting the whooping cough now to decrease your risk .

What exactly is whooping cough? Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis. It begins as a mild respiratory infection with the typical cough, runny nose, and itchy watery eyes. After about 2 weeks, it develops into a violent uncontrollable cough followed by the classic whoop sound that occurs during attempted inspiration.

It is hard to believe that in the US, this is the most commonly occurring and easily preventable disease that we have to deal with . It can be highly debilitating. Coughing fits can last for several months if contracted. The Chinese refer to it as the " 100 day cough." In children, this disease is serious and can be have devastating consequences. According to the CDC every 1 out of 5 infants with this infection develop pneumonia and in rare cases, 1 out of every 100 can die. Proper immunizations are crucial for protecting your child.

Immunizations should begin at about 2 months. Another dose should be given at 4 and 6 months. The next dose should be followed up in about the 16 month of life. The last in the series of 5 should be given before the child enters school. The recommended vaccine is known as DTaP and it contains the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccines as well. Pre-teens should get the new booster known as Tdap. Adolescents, adults, and post partum moms should also receive this booster. Booster shots are now recommended every 10 years until about the age of 60 to provide continuous immunity. Some parents choose not to get their children vaccinated due to the possible serious side effects, whereas, others are concerned about their possible link to the development of Autism. Considering several state are experiencing an outbreak, including California, which is in the mist of a state-wide epidemic, parents should weigh the pros and cons very carefully. Just know that it is still around and it is back.

And as I reiterate, please practice proper hygiene. Practice good hand washing! Always cough into the bend of your elbow to trap germs and prevent them from also getting on your hand when you go to cover your mouth. How you protect yourself from contracting the whooping cough will dictate your chances of getting it. Be diligent in practicing good handwashing techniques, get your booster, and always cover your mouth when you cough.