CLEARFIELD — Public health officials have launched a media campaign to “Stop Whooping Cough,” that urges adults to get vaccinated against pertussis before being around an infant.
The number of whooping cough cases in Utah jumped 142 percent between 2011 and 2012, health officials say. Concerns, especially for infants younger than one-year old who cannot be vaccinated, were the driving force. The state went from 618 reported cases in 2011 to 1,497 in 2012.
“By adults getting vaccinated, they are protecting themselves first,” said Davis County Health Department epidemiologist Brian Hatch. “The other goal, perhaps more important, is to protect those who can’t be vaccinated. During the first year of life, infants can’t be vaccinated.”
Davis County saw a 456 percent rise in whooping cough, or 139 cases over the year’s time, seven of them resulting in hospitalization, Hatch said.
Utah is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of pertussis cases. Utah’s incidence rate is over four times the national average. More than half of infant pertussis cases must be hospitalized, according to a state Health Department press release. Eighty-three percent of those infants were infected by a parent or other close family member. Ninety percent of all pertussis deaths occur in infants.
The campaign is a collaboration by the Utah State Health Department and nine of the 12 local health departments, including Davis.
“We’re actively putting resources into the campaign,” Hatch said. “We’re actively doing everything we can to help control pertussis.”
Whooping cough usually results in minor С but prolonged С illness in healthy adults, but it can be fatal in infants who are too young to be immunized against it.
“So it’s important that the adults and older children around an infant be adequately immunized by receiving a quick, easy, and relatively painless Tdap vaccine, according to the Health Department press release.
The campaign’s website, StopWhoopingCough.org, helps visitors find a vaccination location near them. Those who get their Tdap vaccine from a participating health department clinic or at a Harmon’s grocery store pharmacy will receive a free infant “onsie” while supplies last.