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Kristin Hayes, R.N.

Whooping Cough Epidemic Not as Unexpected as You Might Think

By July 8, 2010

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The news of a whooping cough epidemic in California may have caught you by surprise but experts have been fearing such an outbreak. A year ago I was contacted by a PR representative who asked me to interview the Vice President of The March of Dimes about their whooping cough campaign "Sounds of Pertussis". I did the interview and wrote an article on whooping cough. According to March of Dimes V.P., Alan R. Fleischman, MD, the organization became concerned over a new scientific finding that showed that immunizations which protect against whooping cough are temporary; immunity lasts on average only 5-10 years making a booster shot as an adolescent or adult necessary to maintain immunity. In 2009 Dr. Fleischman stated that only 1-2% of the population had had the booster shot.

The March of Dimes had recruited singer, Jennifer Lopez to be the poster girl for their campaign. Lopez states in one ad that she was approached regarding a booster shot after she gave birth to her child. While some hospitals did start offering new parents whooping cough boosters the number of people still unvaccinated is staggering. As a nurse caring for adults and young children I still have not been required to receive a booster shot or even encouraged by my organization to get one. With news of the epidemic in California articles have been popping up left and right about the cost of vaccinations and why more people have not been offered the booster shot with cost being the biggest issue. To date their have been 5 deaths in the California area. Symptoms of whooping cough include: a dry cough, congestion, sneezing, runny nose and a low grade fever.

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