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Keeping Whooping Cough At Bay in Baystate

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) —  Should people in Massachusetts be concerned about an increase in whooping cough cases in neighboring New York state? The number of cases in New York so far this year is higher than the figure for all of last year.

Over the last few years in the Baystate, the number of whooping cough cases has declined in contrast with the national trend. Baystate Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. John Snyder said in part it’s due to aggressive vaccination programs and in part to sheer luck.

“We kind of fall into a false sense of complacency when we think well we vaccinated our kids so we’re okay,” said Snyder. “Unfortunately that vaccine effect wears off.”

Snyder said that when teens and adults get whooping cough, it’s rarely deadly. The real problem is that they can then infect kids with whooping cough  also known as pertussis. And for them, it can be deadly.

“Young children get pertussis mostly from older children and adults and the ones who are most vulnerable are the infants, the kids under 6 months,” said Snyder.

Infants are vaccinated for pertussis at 2, 4 6 and 15 months. During this whole time, they’ll still vulnerable and so pediatricians recommend what Snyder called a cocoon approach for pertussis vaccinations and boosters.

“Grandparents, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, anyone who might be around the baby when its born needs to be protected,” said Snyder.

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