We've heard a lot lately about the whooping cough epidemic sweeping the nation. In fact, Nebraska has already had 69 cases this year, and Iowa there have been over 800! Astounding numbers that medical professionals say could be prevented by doing one simple thing.
Shots. We don't like them, but they can save lives. "Last year, 25 deaths in children from the pertussis. And part of that is because people are not getting vaccinated," said Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Cindy Lewin. You should get your first pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccine as an infant. There's another booster around Kindergarten, and again at age 11. But after that, things tend to get forgotten. Because the bacteria is so highly contagious and the epidemic is spreading, health officials lumped the vaccine in with our regular tetanus shot every 10 years, hoping more adults will get vaccinated. "Because they're going to be caretaking for these infants and children, and it can be something they can pass to the infant," said Lewin. And pertussis, or whooping cough, can be deadly to young children, especially those under age one. That's why adults should be getting the DPT shot that contains both tetanus and pertussis vaccines every 10 years... at age 20, 30, 40 and up. But what if you can remember the last time you got one? "And if you don't know for sure, it doesn't hurt to get another one," said Lewin.
You can get your DPT vaccine at your doctor's office or Siouxland District Health. You'll want to check with your insurance first, though, to see how much they'll cover. And in case you're wondering, here are the symptoms of whooping cough: runny nose, sneezing, fever, and a dry, hacking cough that can be so violent it can provoke vomiting. If you have those symptoms, make sure you see a doctor.
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