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Adults urged to get whooping cough shots

Adults urged to get whooping cough shots

In the interest of their youngest patients, more pediatricians could soon offer some medical care to those of us who are a bit older.

As part of a national push to better protect infants against whooping cough, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that pediatricians can help by giving parents and other caregivers booster vaccines.

This is a break from the norm, and most medical professionals agree that an ideal solution is for adults to keep up with their immunizations at their own doctors’ offices.

But the reality is that most adults haven’t had the shot that protects against whooping cough, or pertussis.

When more people in a community, particularly those in closest contact with infants, are immunized, the chance of infection for those babies plummets. The concept is called “ cocooning.”

Whooping cough outbreaks have plagued Franklin County and communities across the country in recent years. They often start in schools, where adolescents and teens spread it to one another, then to the adults and infants in their lives.

Babies on a routine immunization schedule aren’t protected until they’re 6 months old, and they can become seriously ill if they’re infected.

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said doctors should offer the vaccine to pregnant women and administer it late in the second trimester or in the third trimester, in hopes of protecting both mom and baby.

That followed recommendations in 2005 that children 11 to 18 should routinely be vaccinated to offer fresh immunity and that adults as old as 64 also should get a combined shot that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

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