The Kansas City Star’s recent article (“Kansas whooping cough cases increase,” 11/17, Metro) clearly illustrates the growing statewide problem of whooping cough. It is the only vaccine-preventable disease on the rise in the United States. The article also emphasizes the importance of protecting infants who are not fully vaccinated and therefore susceptible.
This also needs to go a step further, with prevention through adult vaccination. Immunity provided by childhood whooping cough vaccination wears off. Recognizing the need for booster protection, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control has unanimously voted to recommend vaccination for all adults. This specifically includes those in close contact with infants younger than 12 months.
Adults account for about one-third of all cases. They may suffer from severe coughing that can result in rib fractures or vomiting. Furthermore, recent data show that parents were the sources of infection in more than half of infants’ cases.
Now that whooping cough vaccines are available for adults, I encourage my colleagues to immunize their adult patients. Adults need to stay up-to-date on all their vaccinations, including whooping cough.
Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.
Editor’s note: The writer is section chief for infectious disease at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics. She also is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.