Briscoe said it's important for adults to get a TdaP vaccination, which immunizes against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, to protect children and infants, "who are the most vulnerable population," she said.
The highest pertussis rates in West Virginia are among children ages 5 to 14 years old, Gupta said.
Parents and grandparents should get the vaccination, he said, since they can easily pass the infection on to children.
About 80 percent of pertussis cases are spread through household contact, Briscoe said.
"I think most infants that acquire pertussis do so from contact of parents and grandparents who don't realize they have the disease. Their symptoms do not manifest like they do in children," Gupta said. "When adults get pertussis it's usually like a nagging cough that stays for a few weeks and goes away. But the newborns aren't born with inherited immunity to pertussis. If you're a parent or grandparent, getting the shot protects that child before they can protect themselves."
More than half of infants younger than 1 year old who get pertussis are hospitalized, the CDC states. Of the 27 U.S. deaths as a result of pertussis in 2010, 25 of them were in children younger than 1 year old.
"Why does everybody need to get vaccinated? It's about 85 percent effective, but the more people who get it, the better off the community is. The more people who have immunity to the disease, the fewer people who will have the disease," Gupta said.
Vaccine recommendations from the CDC and the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department:
| For Infants and Children: Vaccine is called DTaP. Protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given at 15 through 18 months, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4 through 6 years of age. If a 7- to 10-year-old is not up-to-date with DTaP vaccines, a dose of the booster Tdap should be given before the 11- to 12-year-old checkup.
| For Preteens and Teens: Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can decrease with time. Preteens going to the doctor for their regular checkup at age 11 or 12 should get a booster vaccine of TDaP.
In West Virginia, students entering seventh grade will have to show proof of a TDaP booster and a dose of meningococcal vaccine. Twelfth-graders will have to show proof of a single dose of TDaP vaccine and at least one dose of meningococcal vaccine given after his or her 16th birthday.
| For Adults: Adults 19 and older who didn't get TDaP as a preteen or teen should get one dose of TDaP.
The easiest thing for adults to do is to get TDaP instead of their next regular tetanus booster --- the Td shot that is recommended for adults every 10 years.
To learn more about pertussis in West Virginia, visit www.dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/disease/IBD--VPD/VPD/Pages/Pertussis.aspx or call 304-552-5358.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.