Health Experts Urge Adults to Get Pertussis Booster Shots Every 10 Years

Health experts strongly recommend adults get a pertussis booster every 10 years to protect vulnerable populations, especially infants, from this highly contagious and potentially deadly respiratory illness.

Quadri Adejumo
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Health Experts Urge Adults to Get Pertussis Booster Shots Every 10 Years

Health Experts Urge Adults to Get Pertussis Booster Shots Every 10 Years

Health experts are strongly recommending that adults receive a pertussis (whooping cough) booster shot every 10 years to maintain immunity against the highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis can cause severe coughing fits, a high-pitched 'whoop' sound, vomiting, and exhaustion, and can be life-threatening for infants and young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that adults stay up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccines, particularly those who are in close contact with infants, young children, individuals with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women. The CDC recommends that pregnant women receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine during each pregnancy to pass antibodies to their newborns and create a 'cocoon' of protection.

While vaccines are not 100% effective, vaccinated individuals typically experience much milder cases of whooping cough compared to those who are unvaccinated. The best way to protect against pertussis is to complete the recommended vaccine series of DTaP for infants and children, and Tdap for adolescents and adults. Pertussis vaccination can be obtained from primary care providers, and those without a provider can contact their health plan or a federally qualified health center.

Why this matters: Pertussis is a serious and potentially deadly illness, especially for infants and young children. Maintaining high vaccination rates among adults is critical for protecting vulnerable populations and preventing community spread of the disease.

The Hawai'i Department of Health (DOH) has recently confirmed 11 cases of pertussis on Hawai'i island from March to April 2024, with several cases occurring in infants too young to be fully vaccinated. Health officials are urging parents who are hesitant about vaccination to discuss their concerns with their child's healthcare provider. "Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can lead to severe complications, particularly in infants," stated a DOH representative. Good hygiene practices are also recommended to help prevent the spread of the bacteria that cause pertussis and other respiratory illnesses.

Key Takeaways

  • Adults need pertussis booster shots every 10 years for immunity.
  • CDC recommends Tdap vaccine for pregnant women to protect infants.
  • Vaccines reduce pertussis severity, but don't guarantee 100% protection.
  • 11 pertussis cases confirmed in Hawaii, urging vaccination and hygiene.
  • Pertussis is highly contagious and can be life-threatening for infants.