Whooping cough boosters

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Outbreaks of whooping cough among teens and adults indicate that the infant vaccination for whooping cough -- usually given in one shot that also includes protection against tetanus and diphtheria -- wears off by adolescence.

There have been outbreaks of whooping cough, known medically as pertussis, throughout the United States -- 11,000 cases last year. There have been cases in Southeast Missouri but none so far in Cape Girardeau County.

The FDA is being asked by drug makers to approve adding pertussis vaccine to booster shot for tetanus and diptheria, which are given every 10 years. This makes sense.

The medical world has long known that some viruses that cause serious illnesses adapt and grow immune to treatments intended to quell them. But pertussis is a bacterial infection that was all but wiped out after immunizations started in the 1940s. Now the incidence of whooping cough is on the rise all over the world.

The FDA is expected to make a decision on whooping cough booster shots early next year. The sooner the better.

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