A holiday gift of health

Whether you’re young or old, help give the gift of good health by getting vaccinated against pertussis. New parents should ask grandparents eager to hold the new baby in the family to add vaccines to their holiday shopping list.

A nationwide surge in whooping cough infections has major health organizations urging people to step up and keep up with their vaccines. Did you know that adults are the most common source of pertussis infection in infants? As a grandparent, I’m paying attention to the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC regarding the pertussis vaccine.

A recent pertussis study immunizing a mother in the last trimester of pregnancy showed that the immunization did not lower the rate of pertussis in infants younger than 6 months.  Experts are recommending “cocooning,” a strategy that protects infants who are too young to be immunized, by having parents, brothers and sisters, and caretakers vaccinated against this disease. This includes grandparents, too.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expanded an earlier recommendation that seniors be vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis).  They now recommend that all adults 65 and older, not just those caring for infants, be immunized. If you don’t think you’re going to be around little ones this holiday, think again. You may attend a holiday party where there are lots of tots. It’s important to remember that pertussis isn’t picky. If your booster isn’t up to date, you can get pertussis, too. Let’s not share this disease any more.

So if you’re asked what you want for a holiday gift this year, ask that everyone get their pertussis vaccination.

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