Idaho is seeing an increase in whooping cough cases. Are you immunized?

Article adapted from The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, December 18, 2019

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is starting to see an increase in the number of whooping cough (also called pertussis) cases in Idaho, specifically in the southwest part of the state, near Malheur County, Oregon. So now is a good time to remind everyone to get immunized, especially if you will be meeting a newborn member of your family during your holiday gatherings.

I thought pertussis was dangerous for babies, but not so much for adults?

Adults get pertussis too! While many adults can shake it off, in some cases the cough can last for weeks or months, and it can land you in the hospital with pneumonia or other complications. Plus, babies can’t start getting vaccinated until they’re two months old, and they don’t have high levels of protection until they are 6 months old. If adults are vaccinated, there is less of a risk of passing the highly contagious disease to an infant.

Why is pertussis so dangerous for babies?

Babies are most at risk for getting very sick or dying. About half of infants younger than a year old who get the disease need to be hospitalized. About 1 in 4 infants hospitalized with pertussis get pneumonia, and about two-thirds will have slowed or stopped breathing. In a small number of cases, the disease can even be deadly. Infants are most often infected by family members or members of the same household. In fact, a person with pertussis will infect almost everyone in their household who isn’t immunized.

When do parents need to get their babies immunized?

For best protection, children need five doses of DTaP before they start school. The first dose is recommended when babies are 2 months old. They need two more doses after that, given when they are 4 months old and 6 months old, to build up high levels of protection. Booster shots are recommended to maintain that protection when they are 15-18 months old and again when they are 4-6 years old.

I’ve heard that protection from the vaccination wanes over time.

Vaccine protection for pertussis can decrease with time, but it’s still the best way to protect babies and prevent disease. One way to fight the waning of protection is by getting boosters. Preteens should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap, when they are 11 or 12. Adults need to be immunized as well, even if they were immunized as babies or children. And if you’re getting a routine tetanus booster, which is recommended every 10 years, go ahead and ask about the Tdap vaccine, which vaccinates against tetanus, diphtheria, AND pertussis, all at the same time.

Should pregnant women be immunized?

Expectant mothers should get one dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably at some time during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. By doing this, the mother will develop protective antibodies against pertussis and pass them to the baby before birth. These antibodies will provide the baby some short-term protection against pertussis before the baby is old enough to get immunized. Tdap also will protect the mother before she delivers, making her less likely to get it and transmit it to her baby.

Call the Malheur County Health Department to schedule your immunization appointment at 541-889-7279.

Resources

LGBTQIA+ Welcome

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals. We are proud to offer many services for the health and well-being of our community, including:

  • Rapid HIV testing, referral, and case coordination
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections testing and treatment
  • Communicable disease testing and case coordination, including tuberculosis and hepatitis
  • Wide range of birth control options
  • Immunizations, including HPV for all genders ages 9-26
  • Home Visiting programs for parents with children age 5 and under
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling
  • Tobacco prevention and education
  • Birth and death certificates, available within 6 months of event
  • WIC nutrition program for qualifying families with children age 5 and under

We are a community of all sexual orientations and gender identities and have a variety of health needs. MCHD serves all people regardless of ability to pay, with a few low-cost exceptions. No one will be denied services based on immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. MCHD also accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance. If you do not have insurance, we have staff who can help you sign up for the Oregon Health Plan or determine your eligibility for other assistance programs.

All services are confidential and open to all ages. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment. Walk ins welcome. Se habla Español.

Crisis Resources and Support

Resources for LGBT Youth and Friends/Supporters

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is important that at-risk LGBT youth have access to resources and support to deal with the questions and challenges they may face as they mature.

Resources for Educators and School Administrators

Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

Resources for Parents, Guardians, and Family Members

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes, so it is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.

Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) LGBT Youth Resources