Recent Whooping Cough Epidemic Warrants Need for Concern
SEATTLE, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the past couple of months, Washington state has made national news with an epidemic of whooping cough and ongoing attention to measles outbreaks across the county—two deadly diseases that vaccines can prevent. The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) is urging adults to make sure they are current on their immunizations and get the needed booster shots to keep their immunity strong. It's especially important for those who have contact with pregnant women, young children, and people with compromised immune systems.
"We talk all the time about the importance of children getting their recommended immunizations," said Brian Seppi, M.D., of Physicians Clinic of Spokane and executive officer of WSMA. "It's equally important for adults to be properly immunized, yet they are often unaware they need a booster shot to prevent the spread of some of these terrible diseases."
By not getting the required shots and boosters, adults in our community could be putting others at risk—especially pregnant women, children who are not fully immunized yet, and those with compromised immune systems.
"Every adult—young and old—should talk with their doctor about what vaccines they need," said Dr. Seppi. "If you don't have a complete record of your immunizations, talk with a physician who can recommend how to proceed."
This is an important issue and one that is easy to remedy. Below is a quick overview of recommended immunizations for adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The complete, easy-to-read chart can be downloaded from the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-contraindicactions.pdf). In addition, the Washington State Department of Health has information posted online at http://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize/.
Age 19–65 and older
Yearly flu vaccine
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Td/Tdap) – One dose of Tdap, then Td every 10 years
Varicella (Chickenpox) – 2 doses
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) – 1 or 2 doses
HPV for Women – 3 doses
HPV for Men – 3 doses
For adults with certain risks related to their age, health, job, or lifestyle, there are other immunization recommendations including for shingles, pneumonia, meningitis, Hepatitis A and B. Patients should check with their physicians to discuss which immunizations are recommended. The WSMA's Physician Locator, www.wsma.org/physician-locator.cfm, is an excellent resource for finding a primary care physician throughout the state. In addition, physicians should make a point to talk with their patients about needed immunizations.
"Only about eight percent of adults are immunized against whooping cough," said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes with the Washington State Department of Health. "We've got to spread the word and encourage people to talk with their doctor and get their boosters. Getting vaccinated protects the person who gets the shot and it prevents spreading the disease to others, and that can save lives."
What is Whooping Cough?
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious bacterial infection that causes severe coughing. The disease can be severe and life-threatening for young children. For adults the symptoms are usually less severe. Whooping cough can be prevented by a vaccine. More information on whooping cough at www.doh.wa.gov/Topics/pertussis2012/.
What are Measles?
Measles, a viral disease, is characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and a red, pinpoint rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. If the measles virus infects the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. Some older children infected with the virus suffer from encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can cause seizures and permanent brain damage. More information about measles at www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize/diseases/measles/default.htm.
The Washington State Medical Association's vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. The WSMA represents over 9,800 physicians throughout Washington state. For more information about the WSMA, please visit www.wsma.org.
SOURCE Washington State Medical Association