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September 8, 2009
Times Observer
Immunizations are for people of all ages and are one of the most important ways for people to protect not only themselves, but their loved ones, from serious diseases. Thanks to immunizations, diseases which parents and grandparents may remember as once common are being prevented. Immunizations do not stop once you enter school! In addition to children entering kindergarten, adolescents need immunizations, students entering college, along with parents and grandparents. One vaccination which became available in 2005 provides protection not only against tetanus and diphtheria, but also against whooping cough. This vaccination, abbreviated Tdap, is available for adolescents and adults age 64 and younger and is important for those who expect to have close contact with children, especially infants younger than 12 months. New mothers who have never gotten Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery.

In 2004 there were more than 8,000 cases of pertussis in the U.S. among adolescents and more than 7,000 cases among adults. Case reports have decreased significantly since the introduction of the pertussis vaccination for infants, but continues to be one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases in the country.

This disease is caused by bacteria and is spread from person to person through personal contact, coughing, and sneezing. Pertussis first resembles a common cold; sneezing, fever, runny nose and a mild cough. After one or two weeks the coughing worsens. Many infants who get pertussis catch it from their older siblings, parents, or grandparents — who might not have known they had the disease!

Please check your vaccination records to see if you have received a booster of this important vaccine. Contact the Chautauqua County Department of Health at 1-866-604-6789 with any questions.

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