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Whooping cough can be deadly for infants, but 61 percent of adults don't know their vaccine status
Date:6/17/2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are on the rise in the U.S., recently reaching their highest level in 50 years. The disease can be serious or even fatal to newborns who have not yet received vaccinations.

Effective vaccines against pertussis have been available for many decades, but that vaccine protection can wear off over time. A new University of Michigan poll shows that 61 percent of adults say they don't know when they were last vaccinated against pertussis, which could mean they might be unwittingly exposing vulnerable babies to the disease.

Only 20 percent of adults reported that they received the pertussis vaccine less than 10 years ago (the recommended time frame) and 19 percent said they were vaccinated more than 10 years ago.

"Pertussis is a very preventable disease," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

"But many adults may think their childhood vaccinations still are protecting them against pertussis. Findings from this poll show that few adults have received a booster shot within the recommended 10-year time frame and in fact, two-thirds told us they were not aware of their vaccination status."

Pertussis easily spreads within households, day care facilities, schools and neighborhoods and is most often serious in infants and young children. In fact, the majority of deaths from pertussis occur in children less than 3 months old.

The poll found, however, broad support for parents to insist their newborns aren't exposed to those who might not be current on their pertussis vaccine.

The majority of adults polled (72%) strongly agree or agree that parents have the right to insist that visitors receive the pertussis vaccine before visiting a newborn baby in the hospital. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of adults strongly agree or agree that parents should make sure all adults receive
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Contact: Mary Masson
mfmasson@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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