Adult immunizations for whooping cough, or pertussis, are on the rise in Virginia.
During the 2012 fiscal year, more than 165,000 doses of the Tdap shot were given to adult Virginians, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Besides vaccinating people against pertussis, the injection also protects adults from tetanus and diphtheria.
That’s nearly 50,000 more doses compared to the previous fiscal year, the health department noted last month.
The increase comes as public health officials have made a push to have adults get vaccinated against pertussis.
Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a growing number of pertussis cases this year. In July, the CDC said, that year-to-date counts for 2012 had surpassed those from the previous 5 years for the same period.
And Virginia has continued to report a rising number of pertussis, or whooping cough, cases in the state.
Virginia recorded 375 cases of pertussis from January through August, reflecting a 47 percent increase over the same eight months in 2011. (I should note these numbers are for all Virginians and not just adults.)
I decided to seek out the numbers this year, after reading this New York Times article that suggests that even with widespread vaccination against the illness “almost everyone has had pertussis”– or, at least, a mild form of it consisting of coughing, runny nose and little or no fever.
This wasn’t easy for me to watch, or hear, but here is a video of a hospitalized man with whooping cough from the New England Journal of Medicine.