Jeff Gordon and Darryl Dube: Real Guys Who Immunize To Protect Children
By Christine Vara
What is more manly than a NASCAR star taking a needle in the arm for the sake of children’s health? Jeff Gordon may be a famous race car driver, but he is also a real guy. Just like he prepares for a race by wearing his seatbelt and helmet, he is preparing for the birth of his second child by getting a vaccine.
The Tdap booster he recently received was orchestrated around the launch of a new national education campaign by Sounds of Pertussis. By protecting himself with the adult pertussis booster vaccine, Jeff Gordon is also helping to ensure that his own child will be protected as well.
Pertussis is a highly contagious condition caused by bacteria that spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks very closely to another individual. Adult symptoms are often mistaken for a bad cold or even bronchitis. However, in some cases, as seen with infants, pertussis causes severe coughing and gasping for breath created by a sticky, thick mucus that makes it difficult to eat, drink and breathe.
Unfortunately, in the case of pertussis, if an infant contracts the disease there is an alarming 90% chance that it will result in death. Surprisingly, 70% of infant cases can be attributed to infection by a caregiver or family member, and 50% of the time it is linked directly to the parents. These shocking statistics are why Jeff Gordon is promoting the Sounds of Pertussis campagn to raise awareness about the threat of pertussis to young children and to encourage everyone who has contact with infant children to be sure to get vaccinated.
“Even though Ingrid and I have a 3-year-old daughter, we had no idea when Ella was born that we needed a pertussis booster, and that without it, we were putting her at risk,” said Gordon. “Now, with a new baby on the way, we’re not taking any chances — we’re getting vaccinated. I’ve already rolled up my sleeve, and Ingrid will get her immunization shortly after our son is born.”
As Jeff Gordon launched this campaign, he was joined by Daryl Dube. Though not a celebrity, he is a hero in his own right – a father who lost his son to pertussis at 7 weeks of age and won’t stand by and allow this to happen again.
After suffering such a heartbreaking loss, Daryl and his wife Felicia are finding the courage to take action and help others to protect themselves and their children from this life threatening disease.
“I don’t want people to think, ‘It couldn’t happen to me.’ You don’t know,” said Felicia Dube.
“You never think. We took home a perfectly healthy beautiful little boy and 7 weeks later he’s gone,” Dube said.
Although the recommended vaccine schedule already includes the DTaP vaccine for children (which offers immunization against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), infants remain susceptible to this highly contagious disease prior to receiving at least three of the recommended doses. Since many adults do not realize there is a booster, both adolescents and adults can contract pertussis and are often unaware that they are infected. Subsequently, they unknowingly pass it on to others and continue to put more children at risk. That’s why the CDC recommends that all adults and adolescents between 11 and 64 years of age, especially those who have close contact with an infant, be immunized with a Tdap booster like Jeff Gordon and Daryl Dube. The challenge now is to ensure that more people are informed of these recommendations.
Last week, Shot of Prevention provided a review of the pertussis epidemic that has been declared in the state of CA. However several other states, such as NJ, TX, MI, OH and SC are also seeing an alarming rise in pertussis cases this year, some over a 50% increase in cases over last year. As we continue to see a this trend nationwide, it is increasingly important that we educate people on the importance of Tdap boosters.
It is our hope that the concept of cocooning our children, as explored in a previous post on Shot of Prevention, will continue to gain support through public service campaigns like that being promoted by Jeff Gordon, Daryl and Felicia Dube and the Sounds of Pertussis campaign.
Please help us spread the word about the importance of vaccinating against pertussis. Every Child By Two is looking to create a task force to help address this issue from within the medical community and we are encouraging anyone who may be interested in participating to contact them at email@example.com. Additionally, please comment below if you have a story you would like to share or a comment to add regarding these efforts.