Whooping Cough Information Going Home With Students
Also, a big thank you to our school nurse, Cindi Smith, for getting this information together.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
The Pawnee County Health Department has recently informed me that there now is a presumptive case of Pertussis (whooping cough) in Pawnee County. This means that although lab work has not definitively confirmed the disease, enough symptoms consistent with the illness are present to treat the situation in the same manner. This reinforces the importance of keeping up-to-date on immunizations.
Whooping cough begins with symptoms of the “common cold” - nasal congestion, sneezing, and/or a mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, the coughing escalates to prolonged periods of very hard coughing that can result in gasping for breath (making a “whoop” sound) or vomiting. Whooping cough can lead pneumonia, hospitalization, seizures, or even death.
Whooping cough is spread by breathing in the infected droplets produced by an infected person during coughing and sneezing, and is very contagious. “Almost everyone who is not immune to whooping cough will become ill if exposed to it.” (CDC Pertussis Fact Sheet)
Infants are especially susceptible to whooping cough because they are not old enough to have received the complete immunization series.
Pertussis is a component of the required childhood immunization schedule; it is given in a series of 5 injections beginning in infancy and finishing between the ages of 4 to 6 years old. Your child has better protection the more complete their immunization series is. It is recommended that children receive the fifth dose of the series as soon as they turn 4 years old. Please review your child’s immunization record to see if they need to receive the fifth dose of Pertussis (given in the same injection as diptheria and tetanus - it will most likely be labeled DTP or DTaP on the immunization record).
There is a booster dose of Pertussis available for older children and adults. It is also given in the same injection with the tetanus and diptheria booster - labeled Tdap. Tdap is required for children entering the 7th grade. Students are eligible to receive this booster after they turn 11 years old. The Health Department is also encouraging adults to receive the Tdap vaccine especially if they are in close contact with infants.
The Pawnee County Health Department holds vaccination clinics on Wednesday afternoons and all day Fridays. You may call the Health Department at 285-6963.
Please contact me if you have any questions regarding Pertussis or your child’s immunization status.
Cindi Smith, RN
Pawnee County Health Department can provide the Pertussis vaccine. You may contact them at 285-6963.
(Information obtained from the online CDC Pertussis Fact Sheet)