Health officials are urging adults to protect themselves: whooping cough, flu on the rise

California is currently seeing the highest rates of whooping cough in that area since the 1940s. With fears of rapid spreading, in conjunction with a serious flu season looming ahead, healthcare officials are urging everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible. In an attempt to reduce the spread before symptoms begin, and to reduce exposure for the most vulnerable populations, governing agencies like the CDC are recommending vaccinations for flu for everyone who is over the age of six months, and a Tdap vaccine to prevent whooping cough as scheduled for infants, or a booster for adults as necessary. However what seems like a simple task–rolling up your sleeve and getting your shot, could hold its own dangers.

Whooping cough, which is characterized as a severe, persistent cough with a distinct whooping noise can affect people of all ages. It is most dangerous for the very young, and can be deadly in infants and toddlers. Adults may see serious side effects as symptoms and the cough may last up to three months or longer in some people. Initial symptoms often present as a cold. Runny nose, fever, congestion, sneezing, and a mild cough are often the early symptoms. People often do not realize that they are contagious at this time and can spread the germ quickly through person-to-person contact. The disease is most effectively treated with antibiotics if caught early, but can have lasting effects on those who suffer from it symptoms.

Each year, health officials tell us that this flu season could stand to be the worst in record history. Last year’s flu season was touted to bring illness in pandemic proportions. Thankfully, despite rushing adults, and long lines for H1N1 vaccinations the flu season was not as bad as originally expected. This year’s three and one vaccine cocktail is being marketed to protect against three different types of common flu strains and government health officials are working overtime to ensure that everyone gets their dose.

Unfortunately, continued risks from vaccinations have left many people wondering if this is their year to stand in line. Specifically related to complete backing, many people fear side effects from the shot itself. Whether those symptoms are mild, ranging from extreme fatigue or malaise, to extreme side effects that could even mean death in some cases the general population of the United States is widely under vaccinated this year. In fact, in 2009 only one third of Americans over six months of age were vaccinated according to the CDC. And although the numbers are not surprising, even fewer adults have been vaccinated against whooping cough. In 2009 only 7% of adults were vaccinated against whooping cough according to the CDC. More and more parents are choosing to either delay vaccinations or withhold them completely from their children. In 2008 39% of parents refused vaccines for their children, which was up from 22% in 2003.

Healthcare officials blamed the rise on a lack of education for parents. Stating that parents simply do not understand the importance of vaccination and have failed to follow up as necessary with their healthcare providers. Certainly these illnesses are serious and should not be taken lightly. However, every parent should weigh the risks and benefits of vaccination before lining a and offering their children for a dose.


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