With all of the news surrounding pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks across the country, along with cases of measles in several states, the importance of vaccinating is paramount.
Vaccines have been proven to prevent disease, but in order for them to be effective the majority of the population must be protected. By vaccinating upward of 90 percent of the population, the entire “herd” community is protected. When vaccine rates dip below this threshold, a disease such as measles or whooping cough can cause illness, not just isolated to one person but spread to those who have not been immunized or those who have lapsed immunizations and whose immunity has weakened.
This scenario seems to be part of the case for pertussis, as the adult population had not been vaccinated against pertussis for many years. It’s now evident and recommended that adults, as well as children, receive a booster dose of pertussis in the form of a TdaP vaccine. That means ALL adults.
I know that winter illnesses are just around the corner. Every day, parents ask me, why does my child get a cold, a cough, or a fever and vomiting? That’s because we don’t yet have vaccines for the common cold, or for norovirus, enterovirus or adenovirus. Those vaccines may be available one day. However, we do have vaccines for rotavirus (winter-time vomiting and diarrhea), measles, chickenpox, and influenza.
The great news is that the flu vaccine for 2013-14 is now quadrivalent, which means there are four strains of flu in the vaccine (two for flu A and two for flu B). This should provide even greater protection.
Doses are already in our office and we’ll be vaccinating all during the fall in hopes of keeping more illness at bay this winter. The best protection against disease continues to be vaccines. Spread the word, not the disease!
Pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard is co-host of “The Kid’s Doctor” radio show.