Is your tween's whooping cough vaccine up to date?

Is your tween's whooping cough vaccine up to date?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is making a come back, and tweens are at risk. CDC officials said Thursday that this outbreak could be the worst in 50 years and that thus far more than 18,000 cases have been reported. The whooping cough vaccine does not last forever. Has your tween received a booster shot yet?

Tdap is a booster immunization given at age 11.  Pertussis is the "p" in Tdap. The booster shot offers protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis), all deadly diseases caused by bacteria.

The booster shot is necessary because immunity received from early childhood immunization wears off over time, leaving tweens susceptible again to pertussis.

The diminished effectiveness of the prior vaccines may be responsible for the fact that adolescents were particularly impacted by the epidemic outbreak of whooping cough in Washington, which the Washington State Department of  Health declared an epidemic in April.  Similarly, in California, immunized children between 8 and 12 years old were more likely to catch the bacterial disease than kids of other ages.

Illinois state law requires students entering 6th grade and 8th grade to show proof they received the Tdap vaccine before the first day of class in the 2012-2013 school year.

The legislature passed the law in 2011, the same year when llinois health care providers reported nearly 1,400 cases of the illness, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In the prior decade, they reported only 194 cases. Ten years before that, only 74 cases were reported.

Last year's whooping cough outbreak hit suburban Chicago especially hard.

According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2011, the McHenry County Health Department reported more than 270 cases.  The DuPage County Health Department and Cook County Department of Public Health, which includes most of suburban Cook County, reported more than 250 cases each. The Chicago Department of Public Health reported 79 cases.  Keep in mind that it is likely that cases go unreported, too.

If you want to educate your tween about the disease, the CDC offers this kid-friendly fact sheet on whooping cough.

If you are a parent who vaccinates, it's worth checking your child's immunization record now, prior to the start of school, to make sure they have their booster shot.

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