It’s not at all unusual that new parents don’t get much sleep. But no parents, especially parents of an infant, want to be awake at night because their child is coughing so hard they can’t breathe.
Medical officials are saying that there have been 37 cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reported in Boulder County since late-March.
In fact, 30 of those Boulder cases were diagnosed in children under the age of 18. Back in April, whooping cough almost took the life of six week old Natalie Schultz.
“She would cough and cough and cough and then kind of wheeze in to breath,” said Danica Schultz, Natalie’s mother, on a recent interview with Fox 31.
Because infants who are Natalie’s age are still too young to receive the pertussis vaccine (DTaP) themselves, they rely on adults and older children to be immunized against these diseases.
“The recent whooping cough outbreak in Boulder, and other similar outbreaks across the country, underscore the need for parents to get their children vaccinated according to the schedule created by the CDC,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, director of the Immunization Section at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
A child with whooping cough has trouble eating, drinking, and sleeping because of the hacking cough. Whooping cough is also called the “100-day cough” because of its long duration.
Whooping cough is a serious and very contagious respiratory disease that can cause long, violent coughing fits and the characteristic “whooping” sound that follows when a person gasps for air. It takes a toll on anyone, but for infants it can be deadly. Click here to learn more about the symptoms.
Delaying children’s pertussis immunizations significantly increases their risk of contracting this disease. Outbreaks of the disease tend to cluster in particular geographical regions or within certain demographics where more parents tend to embrace a vaccine-free lifestyle.
Some Boulder County parents are choosing to vaccinate their children on delayed or “alternative” schedules. One such delayed schedule recommended by author Dr. Bob Sears has been especially popular among parents choosing to put off some of their child’s vaccinations. A 2010 study in the respected journal Pediatrics showed that delayed vaccination schedules provide no additional benefit over the CDC recommended schedule.
Dr. Herlihy noted that some parents believe that babies’ bodies can’t handle the vaccines. “That is simply not true,” she said. “There is no such thing as overwhelming the immune system with shots. Even infant immune systems have an almost limitless ability to respond to new germs. And the number of antigens or germs in childhood vaccines is a drop in the bucket compared to what young children’s immune systems are naturally exposed to every day.”
Dr. James Todd, medical director for epidemiology at Children’s Hospital Colorado, has conducted new research on vaccine use in Colorado. “The ‘too many too soon’ myth puts the health of our youngest children and their playmates at risk,” Dr. Todd said. “Research we have just completed shows we’re falling behind in the early childhood vaccine schedule in Colorado. We’re falling behind with the youngest children. This is significant because typically we see most vaccine-preventable disease in children up to 36 months of age.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment partnered with other organizations to create the website, http://www.immunizeforgood.com, to inform parents about which vaccines are needed, and why they’re important.
In addition to the http://www.immunizeforgood.com website, parents are encouraged to access other credible resources regarding immunizations. Both http://www.cdc.gov and http://www.cdphe.state.co.us also provide great vaccination resources.