MDH Urges Expectant Moms to Get Pertussis Vaccine
State health officials fear this could be a peak year for whooping cough. The bacterial infection, also known as pertussis. It was blamed for the death of an infant in November. The last baby to die of whooping cough was in 2013.
Preliminary data for 2019 shows there were 25 cases of pertussis in infants less than 6 months old in Minnesota. Of those, eight were hospitalized, and two of the hospitalized cases were severe.
Symptoms of whooping cough start with a common cold and can turn into rapid coughs with a high pitch “whooping” sound. Health officials say if symptoms continue for weeks and get worse, contact your doctor. The contagious disease is spread by sneezing and coughing.
Minnesota Department of Health officials say babies cannot get vaccinated until they’re at least two months old. That’s why it’s important for expecting moms to get the vaccine.
“We’ve seen that that’s really effective with infants not getting pertussis, but on top of that, from preventing them from getting really sick from pertussis even if they do get it. And so that vaccine that mom gets is actually protecting the baby for that first two months of life,” explained Cynthia Kenyon, Minnesota Dept. of Health Epidemiologist Supervisor.
Health experts say only 40-50% of pregnant women are getting the vaccine. The Tdap vaccine is recommended during the third trimester of each pregnancy.
Last year the health department saw 500 cases of whooping cough; it’s expecting much more this year. Doctors typically see around 300 to 1,000 cases a year.
If you are diagnosed with pertussis, doctors will treat it with antibiotics.