Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 2, 2013

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.

National Infant Immunization Week just concluded Saturday. And though it has highlighted the importance of protecting children from preventable diseases for 19 years, Indiana still ranks among the bottom half of states in infant inoculations.

The Howard County Health Department makes it easy for families to get vaccinations. It hosts weekly children’s immunization clinics, and free or low-cost vaccinations are available to all resident families without immunization coverage or health insurance.

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. Preliminary data from the CDC shows more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough 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.