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Booster Helps Protect Against Whooping Cough

October 16, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Booster Helps Protect Against Whooping Cough

South Dakota health officials are warning parents to make sure their children are vaccinated for whooping cough.  Also known as pertussis, it's on the rise in KELOLAND; in South Dakota cases are up 87 percent this year.

Sara Wishard makes sure her kids stay healthy by scheduling well visits and talking to her children's pediatrician.

"The toddler seems like it's really common to come in and update your immunizations and get your physicals. I think sometimes as your adolescent gets older, their schedule gets busier, and it can get missed," Wishard said.

Wishard made sure her 11-year-old doesn't miss a booster shot for whooping cough. She's concerned about the rise in the sometimes-deadly disease.

"There are a lot more people who have it than the 50 in South Dakota or the 1,000 in Minnesota. It's relatively hard to test for," Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Aaron Zylstra said.

Zylstra says the reason for the increase in whooping cough is a change in the vaccine.

"Historically we had a vaccine that worked pretty well back in the 70s.  But it had a lot of side effects to the infants.  So we got rid of that vaccine and changed it and updated it for the whooping cough," Zylstra said.

While the vaccine now doesn't have the side effects, children do need a booster shot when they're around 11-year-old Tate's age.  But not everyone is doing that.

"So there's been a waning of the immunity. Adolescents and adults are running around not as immune to pertussis or whooping cough as they used to be," Zylstra said.

The disease is most serious in children, but Zylstra encourages everyone to get vaccinated.

"They can give it to infants who haven't gotten the vaccine yet or haven't been fully immunized yet, and infants get very sick with pertussis," Zylstra said.

"It is scary, and for the health of my children and other children, it's very important to keep up with preventative medicine," Wishard said.

Whooping cough usually starts out like the common cold but ten to 12 days in, severe episodes of coughing can start. In children the coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a loss of consciousness, even death.

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