Saturday, May 31, 2008

Practicing What I Preach

I got my Tdap shot this week. My arm was a bit sore the first night and I was a little tired and had a headache yesterday (but it also could have been my allergies - they have been worse the past couple weeks than earlier in the spring).
If you are not aware of this new tetanus shot please read about pertussis and the Tdap vaccine here, here and here.
Adults should have a tetanus shot every 10 years but even if it has been less than 10 years since your last one, you can still get the Tdap (mine was 8 years ago) so that you get a booster on the pertussis as well. Any adolescent/adult (up to age 64 years) should be getting this vaccine, but especially if you are a health care worker, or parent/caregiver of an infant or young child.
Why is it important?
1. To protect yourself against tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis is quite common whether you realize it or not. (I can attest to this since I do the follow-up on the communicable disease reports for the health department.) In an adult, the illness generally appears as a "bad cough" but this cough can last weeks or even months and can be severe enough to break ribs. (Not something I would like to experience if I can help it, thank you.) Medication (such as antibiotics or cough medicine) will not help alleviate the symptoms. Antibiotics only decrease the severity of the illness if given before symptoms start or at the very beginning of the symptoms which usually does not happen because in the early phase of the illness symptoms mimic the common cold.
2. To protect infants and young children. Pertussis is especially serious for young babies. It takes usually 3 doses of the Dtap vaccine for babies to build up protection. So, babies under 6 months are especially vulnerable to the disease. The illness is most severe in babies under 1 year old and about half of these infants need to be hospitallized because of complications. Babies are most often infected by adults (parents or other caregivers) who have symptoms but probably did not go to the doctor to get diagnosed.
Do you have children? Do you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews? Do you babysit infants or young children? Do you serve in the nursery at church? Do you have any other type of contact with infants and young children? Please consider getting vaccinated!

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