Pertussis: Adults get Re-vaccinated

We are on pace to have the largest pertussis epidemic since we started vaccinating

A Warning to Adults- do not kill your infants, grandchildren, nieces, nephews – get revaccinated:
A month before my son was born I had a cold. Typical summer cold, a wet nose, a dry cough. Then the cough became worse- in fact, the cough got to the point where I would cough so violently that there was no more air in my lungs, my body recoiling by quickly pulling in air- with a classic sound “whoop.” I had pertussis – and in two weeks my son was going to be born.

I had read about the recent outbreak in California, and we had been there recently – but I thought that the vaccine I had as a child was good enough. It wasn’t. Turns out that the vaccine wears off after ten years.

Pertussis, whooping cough, is a highly contagious illness caused by bacteria. It can be deadly to newborns, or infants. There is a good vaccine for whooping cough, but the vaccine effect wears off in about ten years. This is the warning for those parents, grandparents, or friends who are likely to come in contact with newborns or infants, to get re-vaccinated at least two weeks before contact.

In 2010 there were 27,550 cases reported in the US, and 27 deaths, of which 25 were infants (younger than 1 year of age). This year there have already been over 22,000 cases reported to the CDC and counting. The danger is coming from those who are not vaccinated, and to those for whom the vaccine has worn off. We have hit that point – where enough vaccines have worn off, combined with people who have refused to be vaccinated, that this disease is making a come back. But it is easier now, more than ever, to get re-vaccinated – most drug stores like Walgreens have staff available to vaccinate you. Do it today- don’t be responsible for passing on this deadly disease.

Getting whooping cough is not enough immunity – you must get revaccinated.
If you had whooping cough this year, it still is not enough to activate your immune system. Get vaccinated. Nor is there any combination of fruits or vegetables, or healthy eating that will boost your immune system against this bacteria.

Pertussis Symptoms:
Starts like a mild cold and after 1-2 weeks turns into serious coughing – amost described as coughing fits. The “whooping” comes after the coughing expels all the air from the lungs and a rapid inhale sounds like “whoop.”

Whooping cough – Deadly for Newborns/Infants
Infants don’t have the cough, but are affected by apnea, where they pause their breathing pattern. Infants who are 1 year old or younger need to be hospitalized, and 1 in 4 infants develop severe pneumonia. Pertussis kills up to 2% of infants who are hospitalized. The bacteria, Bordetella pertussis, is highly contagious, and spread by coughing or sneezing. Often adults do not realize they have it, when they give it to infants.

Need for Revaccination
Pertussis requires revaccination about every ten years. For adults (over 19) who didn’t get the Tdap vaccine, it is recommended that they get Tdap at least two weeks before coming into close contact with infants. We are able to vaccinate against viruses and bacteria, and while the small viruses vaccines give lifelong immunity, bacteria vaccines (Tetanus and pertussis) require re-vaccination about every ten years.

New Parents- get vaccinated
Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles – anyone who is going to be in close contact with an infant it is important to get re-vaccinated. Since tetanus boosters are recommended every ten years. The immune response of the vaccine peaks two weeks after the shot. Pregnant mothers should also consider getting the vaccine, the CDC reports no harm to the mother or the baby/fetus after vaccination. IN addition, with Tdap, mothers can still breast feed. Pregnant mothers who receive the vaccine will not only be protected against pertussis but not transmit to her children. In addition, the fetus will get some of the benefit of the antibodies.

Infants should follow their regular schedule for vaccination against pertussis.

My healthy son- ready with a stethoscope to listen to your lungs

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, then became a renowned weight loss surgeon, and a leading advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he advocates teaching people to improve their health through their food. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcom Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit


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