9 cases of pertussis identified in Jefferson and Shelby Counties. There’s a vaccine for that at your local pharmacy.

Birmingham, Alabama, pertussis outbreak. Vaccines. Immunizations.
Pertussis can be deadly for children age 1 and under. Photo via Pixabay

Earlier this August, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reported an outbreak of pertussis, also called whooping cough, in Shelby and Jefferson counties. Beyond the outbreak, this serious, highly contagious respiratory disease is on the rise in Alabama. Good news! Protecting your family is as simple as stopping by your local pharmacy or doctor’s office for a vaccine.

Birmingham, Alabama, locally owned Birmingham pharmacies. Pertussis vaccine.
Many locally owned Birmingham pharmacies, including Cabaha Pharmacy, offer the vaccine to prevent whooping cough. Photo via Cahaba Pharmacy’s Facebook page
Prevention Is The Best Medicine

Vaccines aren’t only for schoolchildren. Everyone should be up to date on their recommended immunizations. Two vaccines do the trick to prevent pertussis: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis).

Did you know? Many locally owned Birmingham pharmacies offer a full lineup of immunizations, including pertussis vaccines. Check out Bham Now’s local pharmacy guide to find one close to you. Call before you head out to make sure the vaccine is in stock.

Pertussis By The Numbers
  • 151 reported cases in Alabama in 2017.
  • 172 reported cases thus far in Alabama in 2018 (that’s 21 more cases than last year, and we’re only halfway through the year).
  • 9 children tested positive in the recent outbreak in Jefferson and Shelby Counties.
  • 22 people linked to those who tested positive exhibited pertussis-like illness (PLI).
  • Approximately 50 percent of affected people in the recent outbreak were not up to date with all recommended vaccines.
  • 1 year or younger is the age when whooping cough can be deadly, though it’s a serious illness for all ages.

“Patients should be aware that pertussis is a serious disease that can affect people of all ages. It can even be deadly for babies less than a year old. That is why it is especially important for everyone to be up to date on their pertussis vaccine with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) or Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), which is required for school entry.”

Dr. Burnestine Taylor, Medical Director for Disease Control and Prevention, ADPH
These guys look nasty. Is your family up to date on all recommended vaccines? Image via Pixabay
Whooping Cough Symptoms
  • runny nose
  • low-grade fever
  • cough
  • violent coughing after 1 to 2 weeks of illness, making it difficult to breathe
  • “whooping sound” when taking deep breaths after coughing fits

Visit your doctor if you or your child experiences these symptoms.