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City of Kansas City, Mo.

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Pertussis and other childhood vaccinations are vital

Dr. Rex Archer, director of the City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department, urges residents to take precautions against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Of the City’s 26 cases reported so far in 2010, 24 have been in children 14-years-old and younger. Many of these were in families where the children were not fully vaccinated. In California, a pertussis outbreak has resulted in the deaths of 10 infants so far this year.

“Nine of these infants were too young to have completed the full series of pertussis vaccinations,” said Archer. ”"It is so important for all of us to be vaccinated to protect the weakest among us.”

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease most commonly affecting infants and young children. Initially, the symptoms of pertussis resemble the common cold, but the coughing soon intensifies significantly, causing the affected to gasp for breath, making a “whoop” sound. These symptoms can last for months, even after medical treatment.

“Early childhood immunizations protect against a wide range of diseases and save lives,” said Archer. “Outbreaks like the one currently in California and of measles and mumps locally in recent years illustrate why it is so important to make sure your child is up-to-date on immunizations.”

The Health Department and most pediatricians and family doctors offer a series of vaccinations known as DTap and Tdap. Both vaccines protect against pertussis, as well as diphtheria and tetanus.

For maximum protection, infants should receive a DTaP vaccine at two, four and six months of age, sometime between 15 and 18 months, and again before entering school between four and six years of age. Because immunity may weaken, they will need a Tdap booster between 11 and 12 years of age, and then again 10 years later.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of affected toddlers and infants require hospitalization due to medical complications. In those who have been vaccinated, complications are usually far less severe.

For more information on pertussis or other childhood immunizations, visit the Health Department website,, or the CDC website,

Media inquiries about this topic should be directed to Jeff Hershberger, public information officer for the Health Department, 816-840-2548 (pager). Follow the Health Department on Facebook and Twitter, and


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