I had a whooping cough vaccination last month. At the beginning of April we became grandparents to a beautiful little girl. As we made plans for a visit to meet her in Saskatchewan her mother who is a pediatrician made a request. Could we get whooping cough vaccinations before we came to see the baby?
I checked our vaccination records and although we’d had various childhood vaccinations updated for travel reasons we had never had a whooping cough booster.
I did a little research and found that there are around 30 million cases of whooping cough worldwide each year resulting in some 400,000 deaths. A Canadian government website reported an increase in cases in recent years in a number of provinces. It informed people that whooping cough can cause severe illness or even death in infants. Grandparents might be carrying the disease and not even know it. Since babies don’t get their first whooping cough vaccinations till they are two months old and their last when they are eighteen months old they are the most vulnerable.
It was recommended that grandparents of newborns should be sure their childhood vaccines had been updated in order to protect their grandchildren. I checked with my nephew who is a pharmacist and he assured me there shouldn’t be any serious side effects for us from the vaccinations.
I made a quick call to a local pharmacy and found out that in Manitoba people over 65 can get a whooping cough shot free of charge, so there was really no excuse not to do so.
There has been a surge in whooping cough cases recently, partially as a result of more people choosing not to vaccinate their children, but also because so many adults like me who had their first shots in their childhoods in the fifties and sixties are not getting booster shots when the effectiveness of their initial vaccinations has worn off.
On March 19thof this year the British Columbia health minister made it clear in an interview with the Vancouver Sun that lower rates of immunization are the culprit for an increase in cases of whooping cough in their province. He emphasized how dangerous the disease can be for babies. An Angus Reid poll noted that some people choose not be vaccinated or choose not to vaccinate their children for philosophical, religious or personal reasons or because they believe in more natural alternatives to vaccination.
Although I am all for freedom of choice it is clear vaccinations are definitely in the best interest of society as a whole. In this article the Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all adults 65 and older be immunized against whooping cough.
Many grandparents of newborns have not updated the whooping cough shots they received in childhood. I’m hoping that after reading this they will check with their pharmacist or physician about getting a whooping cough vaccination. It’s easy and it’s free and what grandparent wouldn’t do anything they could to protect their grandchildren?