Whooping cough cases in Utah double, health officials encourage vaccinations

Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-25 18:44:12-05

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- Utah has seen a dramatic spike in cases of whooping cough; Utah’s numbers for 2012 are more than double those of the previous year, which puts the state at four times the national average.

Health officials launched a new campaign that asks adults to take more responsibility and get vaccinated in order to reduce the spread of the illness. There were 611 reported cases of Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, in Utah in 2011. This number rose to 1,497 cases in 2012.

Gary Edwards is the executive director at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. He said the campaign is targeted at adults, and it revolves around a new website they’ve created.

“The campaign is to try and make sure that adults who are caring for children are vaccinated, to form a cocoon around those children of vaccinated adults to protect the kids,” he said.

Whooping cough is often thought of as a childhood disease, but adults are at risk of contracting the condition and even more so at risk to pass it along to those with more delicate immune systems, like babies.

Britni Brozo is one Utah mother who does everything she can to keep her infant healthy.

“My husband and I both wanted to get vaccinated, and we wanted for our family to get vaccinated,” she said.

Health experts said children are not fully protected from the illness until a series of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccinations are complete when they reach 4 years old.

Doctors said it is important for others to maintain a schedule of continued coverage, as the protection against the disease fades with time. Adults should get a Tdap (Which is similar to a DTaP but with slightly different concentrations of each vaccine) booster every 10 years to maintain their immunity.

Doctors said parents should take the initiative to get vaccinated and urge other family members as well as friends to the same.

Those who aren’t certain if they’ve been vaccinated against whooping cough should consult with their doctor to check their immunization records. Doctors recommend those who are unsure of their vaccination status get the shot as a precaution.