In 2012, 344 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis, or ‘whooping cough,’ have been reported to the Department of Health. Among the 344 cases, 23 people have been hospitalized, 12 of them infants. One infant from San Miguel County died from complications of the disease.
The Department is expecting more pertussis cases in 2012 than in the last three years combined. “Pertussis activity has continued throughout the summer, and once school is back in session this fall, the opportunity for transmission will increase,” said Department of Health Secretary Catherine Torres, M.D. “Vaccination against this disease is our best method of prevention. All New Mexicans should make sure they are up to date with their pertussis vaccinations.”
There are two types of pertussis vaccine: DTaP and Tdap. DTaP is the vaccine for infants and children, and Tdap is the pertussis vaccine for older children, adolescents and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cocooning, which is vaccinating everyone who comes into close contact with an infant – including daycare workers, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
The New Mexico Department of Health recommends the following to help reduce the spread of pertussis:
• All infants and children should receive the primary series of pertussis vaccine, called DTaP, at 2, 4, 6 and 12-18 months of age
• All children should receive a booster dose, called DTaP, prior to school entry at 4 to 6 years of age
• Children between 7 and 10 years of age who are behind on pertussis vaccine should get a Tdap
• Children should receive a booster dose of Tdap at entry to middle school if they haven’t received one previously
• All teens or adults should receive a Tdap booster if one was not given at entry to middle school
• All pregnant women should receive a Tdap booster after the 20th week of pregnancy if they have not received one in the past
• Anyone caring for or spending time with an infant should receive a Tdap booster if they have not received one in the past, including people 65 and older
• All healthcare personnel should receive a Tdap booster, as soon as feasible, if they have not received or are unsure if they have previously received a dose of Tdap
In New Mexico, children’s vaccines are available without charge through the Vaccines for Children Program. Contact your child’s healthcare provider to find out if they participate in the Vaccines for Children Program. Please note that in some cases the provider my charge an administration fee. Children’s vaccines are available for free at any Public Health Office in the state. You can find the nearest public health office by visiting nmhealth.org/phd/phoffice.shtml, or by looking in the blue pages in the telephone book.
Most insurance and pharmacy plans cover the adult Tdap vaccine, so adults with insurance can get immunized by their health care provider or at a pharmacy. Adult Tdap is also covered by Medicaid. Adults without insurance, who are a direct caretaker of an infant under 12 months, can call local public health office about making an appointment to receive the vaccine.
Anyone with a cough illness should make sure to cover their cough, wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and have the cough evaluated by a healthcare provider. Early detection and treatment of pertussis is an important step to help prevent ongoing spread of the disease. You can find more information at pertussis at nmhealth.org/Pertussis/.