Whooping cough makes a comeback

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Whooping cough is always around, but health care professionals say cases tend to run in cycles.

A new outbreak is spreading across the nation. It hasn't hit East Tennessee yet, but parents are already looking toward prevention.
Keeping Ella, 5, and Brady, who'll be 2 in January, safe from harm is top priority for mom Marshanda Pinchok.

"Your mind as a parent, you are just constantly on your children, how can we keep them healthy? I think unfortunately, we let ourselves fall to the wayside," said Pinchok.

When it comes to a recent outbreak of whooping cough, health experts like Darci Hodge at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, say getting yourself vaccinated is just as important as your children.

"Whooping cough or pertussis is normally a childhood disease, but it can be found in teenagers, young adults and adults," said Hodge. Recent outbreaks across the nation are leading health officials to recommend a booster shot.

You probably received the vaccine as a child, but, "Our immunity, even if we got all our vaccines when we were younger, our immunity can decline."

Whooping cough is dangerous, starting just like a cold, but doesn't go away. It can even be deadly for young children. Nine of 10 infants who have died this year were too young to¤0 ]] C2.1 G 0 [[

¶ be fully vaccinated, which makes protecting those around them much more important.

"We call it the cocooning affect. We surround them with folks that are immunized," said Connie Cronley, an epidemiology nurse for the Knox County Health Department.

Experts in East Tennessee say you should check your shot record. "So many older folks are caring for grandchildren, or friends, neighbors," said Cronley, "the infants or children that are not fully immunized, we get those around them vaccinated, that will give those kids better protection."

A federal advisory panel is even working on expanding the rules, recommending that people 65 and older who are around infants get vaccinated.

The Knox County Health Department has the vaccine available for children older than 10 and younger than 18 at no cost. For adults younger than 65, the cost is $35.

For more information on the disease, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control website by clicking on the link below.

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