In an effort to slow the current whooping cough epidemic in Utah, public health officials from around the state announced today a new media campaign to “Stop Whooping Cough” from harming babies.
The campaign, produced collaboratively by the Utah Department of Health and nine of Utah’s twelve local health departments, reminds adults to get vaccinated against pertussis (also known as whooping cough) before being around an infant.
While pertussis usually results in minor—but prolonged—illness in healthy adults, it can be fatal in infants who are too young to be fully immunized against it. So it’s important that the adults and older children around an infant be adequately immunized by receiving a quick, easy, and relatively painless “Tdap” vaccine.
“By ensuring that everyone in contact with an infant is immunized, we create a ‘cocoon’ of protection around the baby until she is old enough to be fully vaccinated herself,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department.
Like the rest of the nation, Utah is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of pertussis cases. However, at 44.7 cases per 100,000 person-years, Utah’s incidence rate is over four-times the national average. More than half of infant pertussis cases must be hospitalized, 83% of those hospitalized cases were infected by a parent or other close family member, and 90% of all pertussis deaths occur in infants.
The campaign website, StopWhoopingCough.org
, helps visitors find a vaccination location near them, and also includes an email generator that allows new or expecting parents to conveniently ask their loved ones to get a Tdap before visiting the new baby. People who get their Tdap vaccine from a participating local health department clinic or a Harmon’s grocery store pharmacy will receive a free infant “onesie” for the infant in their lives (while supplies last).
“Ask your family, friends, neighbors, babysitters—anyone who may come in contact with your baby—to get the Tdap and help protect your baby’s life,” said Dr. David Patton, executive director of the Utah Department of Health.
Whooping Cough in Utah by the Numbers (2012)
2011 cases reported: 618
2012 cases reported: 1,497 (142% increase)
Hospitalized cases: 45
Age groups with the highest rates of disease: Children under 1 year and children 5–14 years
Utah’s rate of disease in 2012: 52.6 cases per 100,000 residents
National rate of disease in 2012: 11.6 cases per 100,000 residents
### Press Release from Salt Lake Valley Health Department