October 3, 2013
Although West Virginia hasn’t had widespread outbreaks of whooping cough like many states have, it has seen an increase in the number of reported cases in recent years, according to health officials.
The disease, also known as pertussis, can be particularly serious among infants before they can be vaccinated against it at age 2. The potential consequences include lung infections, seizures, inflammation of the brain and even death.
Unfortunately, more than three-quarters of the children in the state who contracted the disease in recent years did so through household contact with other family members, mostly parents and grandparents, officials say.
That picture — of adults who have not kept up their immunizations against preventable diseases — is one reason that so many of those diseases remain so present in the population. The example of whooping cough speaks to the larger issue — that many adults do not receive recommended vaccines, thus putting their own health at risk and/or risking the health of others they contact.
Dr. Harry Tweel, executive director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, spelled out the problem clearly in comments published Sunday in The Herald-Dispatch. …
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says thousands of adults suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized or even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Among the most common threats that could be minimized through timely immunizations are influenza, whooping cough, certain bacterial infections, hepatitis A and B and shingles.
The vaccination rate is particularly low for adults older than 60, with 15.8 percent vaccinating for shingles, and only one-third of women age 19 to 26 opting to receive the HPV vaccine, which can help prevent cervical cancer, among other things.
Many adults believe that it’s not important or necessary for them to maintain vaccinations. But, as the CDC notes, vaccines are recommended throughout people’s lives based on age, occupation, lifestyle, locations of travel, medical conditions, and vaccines they’ve had in the past. Those who are not up-to-date with their vaccines leave themselves and people around them vulnerable.
Those who want to learn more about recommendations for immunizations as adults can go to the website at http://www.cdc.gov/ vaccines/adults — including whether they are up-to-date on their vaccines. Doing so could help keep everyone healthier.
— The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington