Experts urge whooping cough vaccination - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Experts urge whooping cough vaccination

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Three eastern Iowa school districts now confirm whooping cough outbreaks.  Waterloo, Clear Creek Amana, and North Fayette Schools all have students with the illness which can lead to more serious conditions.

There's a vaccine that can prevent people from getting sick.  The whooping cough or pertussis vaccine is given to kids starting at two months of age.   But before that age, infants are at high risk for catching the illness.  And older, unvaccinated kids and adults can easily spread it.

15-month-old Rickson Titus is getting his whooping cough vaccine.  While it's not a fun experience for this little guy, the shot will protect him from getting the much more painful whooping cough.

"My arm being sore for three days is a whole lot better than coughing until I crack a rib," said Dr. Angela Townsend, Covenant Clinic pediatrician.

Pregnant and new moms are strongly encouraged to get the pertussis vaccine, too.  But they're not the only ones that should get the shot.

"It's really important that we surround the children with wellness.  It's very important that mom and dad and siblings are all immunized with the pertussis vaccine.  We kind of consider that a cushion around the baby who can't be vaccinated until they're two months," Dr. Townsend said.

Recently, the whooping cough shot was combined with the tetanus vaccine, which adults should get a booster for at least every 10 years.  You'll need to ask your healthcare provider to get that specific combination shot to protect yourself.

Local health departments have sent out letters to area clinics to alert them about the outbreak of whooping cough.  Anyone with symptoms of heavy coughing, gasping for air should get antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the illness further.

Health experts say there's no specific reason for the increase in whooping cough cases this year.  In the past few years, neighboring states have had pertussis outbreaks, so it's not surprising to see an uptick of the illness in Iowa this year.

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