Vaccines need to be updated for whooping cough

Medical health officer reminds public that pertussis vaccines only last five to ten years

I would like to commend your paper and District of Kent Councillor Lorne Fisher for helping spread the word that immunity against pertussis wanes over the years, both after being vaccinated as well as after having had the disease. As he said in Vaccines don’t last a lifetime (Agassiz Harrison Observer, 23 Jan 2012), adults who have been vaccinated against pertussis as children are probably not immune any more.

I also wanted to offer some additional information. If it has been more than five years since you were vaccinated against pertussis, you can catch it from someone who is infected. Pertussis can be a miserable illness even for adults, sometimes causing fits of coughing that are severe enough to break bones or bring on hernias. And even if a person experiences mild or no symptoms, they can pass the infection to others, including small children. Young children often become very sick from pertussis, which can send them to hospital for days or weeks and in rare cases can even be fatal.

Because of how dangerous pertussis is to young children, Fraser Health is offering free vaccination against pertussis in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison, and Hope to all adults who are in regular contact with young children.

It has been gratifying to see how Fraser Health citizens, communities (including First Nations communities), physicians, public health and other health care partners have been working together to help protect our most vulnerable citizens — our children — from this vaccine-preventable disease.

Thank you for your support,

Gillian Arsenault MD

Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health

P.S. Always catch coughs and sneezes in your sleeve — if you have pertussis and don’t know it, this will help contain droplets before they get into the air where someone else could breathe them in.