Although not sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). With children returning back to school, young adults entering college and the winter months approaching, we should take precautions and stay aware. An example of increased awareness and prevention is the recent increase in cases of active Pertussis around the country. Pertussis, more commonly known as Whooping Cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. This upper respiratory infection is a serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants and even death. Pertussis is passed through tiny droplets that are expelled when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
The initial symptoms of pertussis develop about one week after exposure to the bacteria and are similar to the common cold. Within 2 weeks patients will experience severe coughing episodes where vomiting may occur. When symptoms are mild, pertussis can and often does go undiagnosed, increasing the risk of infecting others unknowingly. Although most commonly diagnosed in young children, this disease is easily spread and anyone in contact with young children should receive a DTaP “booster” vaccine. The CDC guidelines were recently updated to indicate that adults up to the age of 65 years should also receive the vaccine:
“The Td/Tdap vaccination footnote (#2) has language added to indicate that persons aged 65 years and older who have close contact with an infant aged less than 12 months should get vaccinated with Tdap; the additional language notes that all persons aged 65 years and older may get vaccinated with Tdap. Also added is the recommendation to administer Tdap regardless of interval since the most recent Td-containing vaccine.” (www.cdc.gov/vaccine/recs/schedules/adult-schedule.htm#)
Many of our direct caregivers have young children in their homes and bring them to visit our residents. Please take a moment to discuss these new recommendations with your Medical Director and remember, safety first, take appropriate precautions needed to ensure our residents, caregivers and families remain healthy!