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Missed Vaccines Increase Chances of Whooping Cough

  • October 30, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

missed-vaccines-whooping-coughPatients with children can often miss a dose of a vaccine that their child was scheduled to get. Some parents choose not to vaccinate their children at all. While vaccination is a personal choice for each parent, medical practitioners are beginning to see a rise in cases of whooping cough when children miss doses of scheduled vaccines. Children are recommended to receive five doses of the DTaP vaccine. The recent trend of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children has resulted in rising rates of pertussis nationwide. These doses should be spaced between ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 48 months or more. A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children who are under-vaccinated against pertussis, or do not receive the vaccine at all, are more likely to contract whooping cough than children who have been vaccinated against it.

The study followed 72 children who had been diagnosed with pertussis paired with 288 healthy controls. The children in the study were further broken down by how many doses of the vaccine they had not received, and whether or not the child was decided to be properly vaccinated for their age bracket. The results of the research pose a high correlation between vaccination rates and confirmed diagnosis of pertussis in children. 47% of the children that had not been vaccinated or were under-vaccinated had been diagnosed with pertussis. Researchers also found during their research that children who missed three or more doses of the vaccine against pertussis were 18.56% more likely to contract pertussis. If a child missed four doses, the results nearly doubled to 28.38% more likely to contract the illness. Those who missed only one or two doses were not statistically likely to contract pertussis as a result of the missed or skipped dosage.

Though the recent resurgence of pertussis in the United States is due to a number of contributing factors, under-vaccination plays a role. Pharmacists can do their part to educate their community and parents on the dangers of under-vaccination, pertussis, and missed doses in a vaccination schedule. Pharmacies should provide literature explaining the symptoms of pertussis and how to recognize the telltale “whooping” cough. Pertussis displays symptoms differently in infants as compared to younger children. Infants with pertussis may not “whoop;” however, they may appear to be gasping for air during a coughing spell. Infants may also develop apnea and stop breathing entirely during a coughing flare up. Pharmacists can counsel parents on how to alleviate symptoms of whooping cough while a child is affected with the illness. Pharmacists can educate parents on the importance of adhering to a vaccination schedule and being sure not to miss a dose. If a parent has trouble making it to their pediatrician, suggest your pharmacy clinic, which may offer extended hours that are more flexible for parents that are on a tight schedule. Vaccination remains the most critical part of preventing pertussis in infants and young children.

Keeping up with vaccinations is crucial and pharmacists play an important role in making sure that patients’ vaccinations are up to date. There’s always a need for pharmacists nationwide, especially when the flu season has begun . See what jobs are available for pharmacists in your area.



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