BeWell Explains Simple Steps to Protect Against Whooping Cough
Aug 04, 2010

By Christine Vara
Despite the fact that vaccines have eradicated smallpox, eliminated polio in the US and significantly reduced the number of deaths from diseases like measles, people are still dying in this country from vaccine-preventable diseases.  Sadly, the state of California is currently experiencing a pertussis epidemic which has already claimed the life of six infants in the state so far this year
These children, like other infants who have died from pertussis (also known as whooping cough), are  too young to have completed the vaccination series that could have saved them from such a devastating illness.  Their protection is largely dependent on the health of others.  In order to protect these newborn members of our community, it is important that we promote the concept of cocooning, which is accomplished by ensuring that everyone an infant will come in contact with is protected be receiving a Tdap booster.  In this way, we see how the immunization of each individual in our society contributes to the health of the community as a whole. 
Articles like the one featured on the BeWell community blog, entitled “Whooping Cough: Protect Your Newborn, Vaccinate Your Family”, illustrate how we can protect newborns from pertussis by vaccinating other members of the family.  This concept of cocooning is vital to the health of our children, therefore it is imperative that we educate parents regarding the simple steps they can take to ensure their entire family is protected.  This article is particularly enlightening because it highlights how important it can be for doctors to encourage family members to receive the Tdap booster to protect newborns from contracting a life threatening disease. 
Ideally, women of childbearing years should be getting the booster before they become pregnant.  Additionally, anyone who has contact with infants, whether they be hospital workers, day care providers, fathers, family members or friends, should also be sure to receive a Tdap booster to protect the infant children they have contact with.   Hopefully, more doctors, like Dr. Ricciotti from BeWell, will make these recommendations to their patients.
In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), I encourage you to do your part to share this information with everyone you know.  It is imperative that we, as a community, help to educate people about the importance of receiving a Tdap booster.  This will not only work to protect our adult population from disease, but will help to spare the life of newborn children.

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