(Saskatoon) – Saskatoon Health Region is encouraging parents to get their infants vaccinated for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, following 61 reported cases across Saskatoon Health Region.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria spread by direct contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person. The bacteria spreads easily when people are in close contact in households, classrooms and childcare centres.
“Pertussis is a very serious disease in infants under 12 months of age,” says Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Saskatoon Health Region’s Deputy Medical Health Officer. “It can lead to breathing difficulties, hospitalization and sometimes death, even with treatment.”
Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis and is given to children through the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) at two, four, six and 15 to 18 months of age, and again at four to six years of age. Children in Grade 8 should get a booster dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine, and adults should talk to their medical provider about receiving Tdap when they are due for their 10-year adult tetanus and diphtheria booster.
To better protect babies, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Saskatoon Health Region recommend that pregnant women, between 26 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, get immunized with Tdap if they have never received Tdap as adults. Meanwhile, women living in the Region where there is ongoing pertussis activity can receive a Tdap vaccine in their third trimester of pregnancy irrespective of whether they have received Tdap in the past.
Pregnant women who get vaccinated have the added benefit of transferring their antibodies to their unborn children. This helps protect the baby before he or she can be vaccinated at two months old and will help keep the mother from getting sick and infecting the baby. Family members, medical providers and others who will be around infants should be up to date with immunization.
For more information on pertussis.