Importance of having children vaccinated

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Although there are vaccines available, cases of whooping cough in Mississippi continue to occur.

By the end of February of this year, Mississippi reported 10 cases of whooping cough, according to a report from the Mississippi State Department of Health. In 2017, a total of 34 cases were reported.

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Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a serious respiratory infection that causes extreme coughing fits, vomiting, and in severe cases, death. While adults can be infected, it is dangerous to young children and babies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, of babies treated for the infection in hospitals, 23 percent develop pneumonia, 61 percent develop apnea, and 1 percent died from complications.

Reliable vaccinations for whooping cough have been available since the 1940s. According to the CDC, before vaccines became widely available, about 9,000 children died every year from the disease. Since then, rates of infection have dropped significantly, with a nationwide average of 20 related child deaths per year.

Dr. Delora Denny, Family Physician at the Picayune Family Care Center, said it is important for every expectant mother to be given the Tdap vaccination to protect against whooping cough. This vaccination provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Denny said that if a woman receives this vaccination during pregnancy, the immunity will be passed from her system to the infant to give the baby a boosted immunity from the moment it is born.

In addition to a mother being protected against whooping cough, Denny said it is extremely important to keep children up-to-date on all necessary vaccines.

Denny said that in regards to parents’ concerns that vaccinations may be unsafe for their babies, she said that there is no data to show an increased risk associated with vaccinating children. However, there is a great deal of evidence to show that vaccinations not only help the child who received the shot, but surrounding children as well.

According to information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as more members in a community become vaccinated against a disease, the chance of the disease spreading drops significantly. In some cases, this community immunity will lead to eradication of a disease.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Rachel Hannaford said that because some children are unable to be vaccinated due to medical complications such as diabetes 1, cancer and other health issues, they rely on the children around them to be vaccinated for protection. Hannaford said that adults are the primary carriers of the disease. As a result, it is important for any parent, grandparent or other adult who is going to be around an infant or child to get the Tdap vaccination.