Many Adults Don't Know Their Whooping Cough Vaccine Status
June 18, 2013

Many Adults Don’t Know Their Whooping Cough Vaccine Status

[ Watch the Video: Adults Don´t Know Child´s Whooping Cough Vaccine Status ]

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Although a working vaccine was developed around 90 years ago, cases of whooping cough, known by the medical term pertussis, persist in the United States, with about 28,000 cases in 2010 — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new University of Michigan survey found 61 percent of adults say they aren´t sure when they were last vaccinated against the disease, meaning they could be unwittingly exposing susceptible babies to whooping cough.

Just 20 percent of adults surveyed said they were vaccinated against pertussis less than 10 years ago and 19 percent said they were vaccinated over 10 years ago. Doctors recommend that adults receive the vaccine every decade.

“Pertussis is a very preventable disease,” said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, who directs the C.S. Mott Children´s Hospital National Poll on Children´s Health.

“But many adults may think their childhood vaccinations still are protecting them against pertussis,” he added. “Findings from this poll show that few adults have received a booster shot within the recommended 10-year time frame and in fact, two-thirds told us they were not aware of their vaccination status.”

The poll also found widespread support for parents taking steps to protect newborns against pertussis. Seventy-two percent of adults polled said they either “strongly agree” or “agree” parents have the right to insist that anyone visiting a newborn in the hospital be current with their pertussis vaccination. Just over 60 percent of adults surveyed said “strongly agree” or “agree” with the notion parents can insist guests to their home have been recently vaccinated against pertussis.

“Welcoming a baby to the family is a wonderful time, and no one would want to put an infant at risk,” Davis said. “So the results of this poll are encouraging because they indicate some awareness that visitors need to be protected against this disease.”

Most doctors recommend adults and teens regularly receive the vaccine against pertussis, known as Tdap. Vaccination is especially recommended for pregnant women and anyone who comes into regular contact with newborns.

“Teens and adults who have received the Tdap vaccine are less likely to get whooping cough themselves, and therefore less likely to spread whooping cough to other people – including infants who have not yet been protected by the recommended pertussis vaccinations,” Davis said.

The children´s poll director said he hopes the positive signs of awareness among parents will increase over time, eventually adding to the numbers of people getting booster vaccines.

“Expectant parents should have a conversation about pertussis vaccine with their family and close friends BEFORE the baby is born, to allow time for them to get their pertussis vaccine up to date,” Davis said. “If parents begin to take this approach, it may have a very positive impact decreasing the number of newborns who become severely ill or die as a result of pertussis.”

Previous research has shown most infants who contract whooping cough got the disease from an older child or adult with pertussis. The disease has been known to spread easily within households, day care facilities and schools. The majority of deaths from pertussis occur in children younger than 3 months old.