EOHU: ‘Whooping cough’ vaccine available

By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is now offering a three-in-one booster, Tdap vaccine, to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU’s medical officer of health, said that the region has not seen any cases of diphtheria or tetanus. However, there have been suspected and confirmed pertussis (whooping cough) cases in Eastern Ontario.

“I believe that the booster Tdap is very important,” he said.

According to Roumeliotis, whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella Pertussis, which is spread through the air when an infected person coughs.

It tends to spread more easily in ‘close-contact’ environments. The infection starts like a regular cold and then the infamous cough phase sets in.

It begins in spurts, coughing until the person’s face turns red with teary eyes, followed by vomiting. During the coughing, a distinctive ‘whoop sound’ appears giving a very scary impression of choking.

Whooping cough can last up to three months. Then it typically goes away on its own. Infants and young children are routinely vaccinated against it.

“Although it causes great discomfort, pertussis is not considered life threatening in older children and healthy adults,” said Roumeliotis. “However, it can be very dangerous, even deadly in infants and young babies. ”

The EOHU is still seeing cases of whooping cough in babies and young adults.

Roumeliotis said it’s because the vaccine seems to wear off, older adults get infected with mild symptoms and unknowingly pass it on to babies who are not yet fully protected.

“I urge all adults to talk their doctor or local public health agency about this shot, especially if they are in contact with young infants and babies,” he said.

You can receive the vaccine through the EOHU, or your healthcare provider.

For more information, go to www.eohu.ca and visit the Adult section on Immunization and Communicable Diseases, or call (613) 933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120. Ask for Health Line.

The Tdap vaccine is recommended for: 

• Children seven years of age and older who missed their childhood series of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccination

• Adolescents between 14 and 16 years of age (up to 18 years of age if dose is missed)

• Adults (19 to 64 years of age) who missed their adolescent dose. Adults need to continue to protect themselves by getting a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

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