Board of Health Issues Whooping Cough Advisory

LONGMEADOW, MA – The Longmeadow Board of Health is advising residents that there have been 13 cases of “Whooping Cough” (Pertussis) among Longmeadow residents reported to the Board of Health since May 2017. Pertussis is a highly-contagious human respiratory disease spread by coughing and sneezing.

The number of cases is substantially elevated compared to recent years and has particular significance to new or expectant parents and the caregivers or future caregivers of infants. Infants are particularly vulnerable to whooping cough as they have no natural immunity and are too young to complete immunizations that are protective. Also, the risk of complications is much higher in newborns than in other age groups. Thus, it is of particular importance to ensure that individuals who are in the closest contact with infants have immunity to this disease so that they do not transmit it to the newborns.

Most adults are unaware that the immunity to pertussis provided by immunizations during their childhoods is no longer effective; adults are susceptible to this disease and require re-immunization. Therefore, it is the adults that are caregivers to infants that are the focus of this advisory.

Following the recommendations of the Federal Centers of Disease Control, expectant mothers are recommended to receive Tdap vaccination (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) during each pregnancy (usually in the third trimester). Many obstetricians are now stocking the Tdap vaccine for their patients.

New or expectant fathers and other adult caregivers of infants are also recommended to receive one dose of Tdap vaccine during their adult years; this shot may be given irrespective of the time interval since the last tetanus booster.

Tdap vaccine is not universally stocked by adult medical practices. Parents and the other caregivers of infants may be unaware that the Longmeadow Board of Health routinely stocks the Tdap vaccine for administration to adults.

The vaccine is covered by most commercial health insurance plans offered in Massachusetts for individuals under age 65.

For individuals with out-of-state plans or with standard Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans there is a fee of $6 for the shot.

Call Carol Steiner, R.N., Community Health Nurse (413-565-4154) if you or any other adult infant caregiver is interested in setting up an appointment for immunization to prevent pertussis or if you have any questions.