Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

April 13, 2014

Immunize your child

Pertussis is a communicable disease Americans just don’t worry about today. Health professionals begin immunizing infants against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus with the DTaP vaccine just two months after birth.

But pertussis, better known as whooping cough, made a comeback in October 2010. Health officials across Indiana reported infections of the disease at a 24-year high.

The rise in reported whooping cough cases might’ve been due in part to better diagnostic tests, health professionals said. But they also pointed to the number of children who might not have been vaccinated against the disease, as well as the number of teens who fail to get booster shots that keep their immunity from waning.

We suspect the latter — particularly after the mumps outbreak in Ohio that originated at The Ohio State University. As of Monday last week, The Columbus Dispatch reported 153 had been sickened, including a 9-month-old. One of two people who became temporarily deaf because of the mumps has recovered, Columbus public health spokesman Jose Rodriguez told the newspaper.

National Infant Immunization Week begins April 26. And though it has highlighted the importance of protecting children from preventable diseases such as the mumps and whooping cough for 20 years, Indiana still ranks among the bottom half of states in infant inoculations.

County health officials administered 12,000 vaccinations to children the year of the whooping cough outbreak. Despite dozens of immunization clinics and warnings from school officials of possible expulsion for not providing proof of immunization, as many as 1,000 students still hadn’t received inoculations before October of that year — more than two months into the fall semester.

Infant immunization remains a national concern, as well. Data from the CDC shows more than 48,000 cases of whooping cough occurred across the U.S. in 2012, including 18 deaths. Most of these deaths were in children younger than a year old.

It was the highest number of whooping cough cases in any one year in the U.S. since 1955.

For the health of your children and the safety of this community, immunize them before they are exposed to a potentially life-threatening disease.

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