Harvard Women's Health Watch

Why you still need pertussis vaccination

You might have assumed that you no longer need to be vaccinated for diseases that normally strike in childhood—including pertussis, or whooping cough. Yet a recent study published in the December 2012 journal Clinical Infectious Diseases underscores the need for older adults to also get vaccinated, as rates of this disease have risen in all age groups. When researchers in Australia looked at a database of pertussis records, they found that the incidence of this disease was about 30% higher in women—and older adults who are infected are more likely to need hospitalization. The CDC says the actual number of adults over age 65 with pertussis may be much higher than we realize, because many cases go unreported. As of February 2012, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices began recommending the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine for all adults age 65 and older.

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