You play an important role in the lives of your grandchildren, including their health.
See Also: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Right now, many grandparents are concerned because Washington is having a whooping cough epidemic, and it’s hitting babies and children hard. Our state has had nearly 1,500 reported cases through May 12. Last year at the same time, we had 134 cases. If case counts continue to rise at this pace, we may have the most reported cases in more than 60 years.
You and I remember a time when whooping cough was responsible for the sicknesses and deaths of many children. Since those days, vaccines to prevent the illness have saved many lives. However, this disease is still a serious and growing health threat as some parents have decided not to immunize their children against whooping cough and other preventable diseases.
Whooping cough is very contagious, but it’s preventable. A single dose of whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) can protect teens and adults from getting and spreading this disease to others. Many adults who got whooping cough vaccine as children don’t know the vaccine wears off over time. Sadly, it’s usually a family member with a mild case of whooping cough who unintentionally passes it to a baby or young child who isn’t old enough to be fully vaccinated. I saw this first hand this year, when I met a young mother whose precious baby died after catching the illness. Whooping cough deaths are preventable tragedies.
Because babies under a year old are especially vulnerable to whooping cough, we recommend that all adults, including those over age 65, who live with or spend time with a baby, get the Tdap vaccine. Covering your cough and staying home when you’re sick also helps stop the spread of illnesses like whooping cough.
There has been a lot of inaccurate information about vaccines in the news and online, and it can be hard to know what information is reliable and what isn’t. I encourage you to talk to your health care provider about vaccines. Find out which vaccines you need for your own health and how the vaccines you get also help protect the people around you.
Most health insurance in Washington covers the whooping cough vaccine, Tdap. This year, the Washington State Department of Health is providing thousands of doses of Tdap to adults who can’t afford it. To find a Tdap immunization clinic near you, contact your health care provider or local health agency.
More information is available on the web.
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Let’s all do what we can to protect ourselves, and those precious, vulnerable babies in our lives.