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Dr. Duong in Statesman: Does Whooping Cough Vaccine Need an ‘Update’?

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says that the vaccine used for whooping cough may be less effective because the bacteria that causes the disease has changed.

“Think of it like the flu vaccine,” explained Dr. Mai Duong, Chief of Pediatrics at Austin Regional Clinic in an interview with the Austin American Statesman. “Every year the flu changes rapidly from the year before which is why the vaccine is different every year.”

While whooping cough, also knowns as pertussis, doesn’t not evolve as rapidly as flu, they still evolve.

But the research and potential need for a new vaccine doesn’t mean you should skip the current one, explained Dr. Mai Duong. “It will still protect you even if you get pertussis. Symptoms will not be as long and not as severe.”

Is Whooping Cough Dangerous?

Without any question, for the very young and those with weakened immune systems, whooping cough is dangerous.

For infants, the risk is that they stop breathing. They also could be coughing so much they can’t get food in, explained Dr. Duong.

Whooping cough is very contagious, passed on in a droplet of saliva often a result from the coughing caused by the disease — a coughing that could become so severe it may cause a healthy adult to break a rib.

It is why a vaccine is recommended particularly around adults who are in contact with young babies to “cocoon” the baby who can’t yet receive the vaccine protection.

“The evidence is there that it is good for the community. It’s protective,” said Dr. Duong.

The vaccine is recommended to be given at two, four and six months, at 15 through 18 months, and again at 4 through 6 years. A booster is recommended for preteens at 11 or 12 years old. Adults are recommended to get a booster every ten years.

Read the full article in the Statesman.com.

Tags: Whooping Cough, Pertussis, Dr. Mai Duong, Statesman

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