Pertussis Outbreaks in Pennsylvania
Tip sheet from Sept. 9 DOH webinar
Whooping cough is increasing around the country and Pennsylvania is no exception. York and Delaware counties have seen the largest increases in disease this year. Most cases are being seen in the 8-12 year-old and 13-49 year-old age groups.
Vaccination is the best defense, but immunity from vaccines and natural infection wanes over time. In addition, many teens and adults are not getting the recommended Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster. As a result, pertussis continues to spread, causing the hospitalization and death of infants too young to be fully protected against this disease.
Children need to be vaccinated against pertussis with the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and between 12-15 months. They also need a DTaP booster at age 4-6 years.
Teens and adults should get a Tdap booster. The Tdap booster is recommended for:
A typical case of whooping cough in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever is rare.
- Everyone ages 10-64 years;
- Women of childbearing age, before or immediately after pregnancy;
- Health care workers;
- People who have contact with pregnant women or babies who are not fully protected against the disease;
- All family members and caregivers of infants, including grandparents, child care providers, babysitters and others in close contacts with babies.
For More Information and Patient Education Materials:
- Get your Tdap booster.
- Encourage all teens and adults to receive their Tdap booster. Use every opportunity to vaccinate teens and adults with the Tdap vaccine.
- Consider the diagnosis of pertussis in your patients. Pertussis is often misdiagnosed as other respiratory infections, which allows the disease to continue spreading.
- Promptly report suspect and confirmed pertussis cases to your local public health department.
Tips from the CAFP
In California where outbreaks are more severe (and deadly), the California Academy of Family Physicians released these recommendations:
It is important that both health care providers and their patients receive protection against pertussis through vaccination (Tdap, DTaP). Make sure that you, your staff and your patients are protected against pertussis now!
- Use pertussis educational materials in your office;
- Review current clinical guidance materials:
- Promote the infant cocooning strategy by vaccinating all persons with potential contact with infants;
- Encourage your hospital to implement a postpartum tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) immunization program;
- Protect children, adolescents, and adults against pertussis through vaccination to improve community immunity levels;
- Offer Tdap vaccination to staff to protect not only staff but also patients;
- Utilize the accelerated diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) infant schedule* during this period of increased pertussis activity; and
- Keep abreast of new developments and recommendations regarding pertussis.
* Healthcare providers may consider an accelerated infant DTaP schedule. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics 2009 Red Book, “If pertussis is prevalent in the community, immunization can be started as early as 6 weeks of age, and doses 2 and 3 in the primary series can be given at intervals of 4 weeks.”