An increase in cases of whooping cough, also called pertussis, is prompting immunization experts at the Iowa Department of Public Health to recommend that middle school students get a new vaccination before school starts. The department’s Dan Callaghan says they’ve been recommending the change for a while
He says what’s known as the DPT vaccine booster dose for adolescents has been recommended as part of the routine schedule of shots for the last five to six years. “We want to go ahead and make sure we are protecting as many children as possible including adolescents and adults,” Callaghan says.
Children already are required to have a series of DPT shots to enter kindergarten, but experts say the immunity wears off over time. Callaghan says there were 145 cases of whooping cough in the state last year.
“Now we are seeing more than 853 cases in 2012 as of July 27th. So we want to go ahead and make sure our children are protected against pertussis,” Callaghan says. “So the way to do so is to receive the Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis containing vaccine as a booster dose at 11 to 12 years of age.”
The public health board will consider the new mandate at a meeting later this fall. Whooping cough is most threatening to babies, and experts also recommend booster shots for adults who spend time around young children.
Update: As of today (9-11), the Department of Public Health says there have been 1,085 cases of whooping cough in the state.