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Pertussis vaccine added to immunization program

Pertussis vaccine added to immunization program

Approximately 16,000 grade 8 students in Saskatchewan will now receive improved protection against pertussis, a contagious respiratory infection more commonly known as whooping cough.

Pertussis vaccine is already part of the routine immunization program for infants and pre-school age children. It is being added to the grade 8 routine adolescent program because immunity against pertussis wanes over time. This means that adolescents who received the vaccine at four to six years of age may have reduced immunity and may become infected if exposed.

Pertussis vaccine is also being added to the adolescent program because there has been a resurgence of the disease in Saskatchewan in recent years.

“We have been seeing more cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the last few years. The reasons for this are not exactly known, although one explanation may be better recognition, diagnosis and reporting of the disease in adolescents and adults,” said Dr. Ross Findlater, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “This vaccine will provide a safeguard against the disease. As teenagers may carry the bacteria, the new vaccine is expected to increase the protection for teenagers and also prevent the transmission of whooping cough to others.”

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. It is easily spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Pertussis usually leads to severe coughing spells, vomiting, and a “whoop” when a person is finally able to take a breath.

The new vaccine will be provided to all grade 8 children in the province starting this fall.

Copyright Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association Oct/Nov 2003

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