January 11, 2016 - With an increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases reported in the city and district over the last 4 months, the Health Unit is urging that individuals ensure they are up to date with their immunization against this disease, particularly those Individuals who are or will be around newborns and infants less than 6 months of age.
The Health Unit is aware of ten cases of whooping cough that have been identified through laboratory testing, with additional cases in close household contacts. Five people have been hospitalized; four of whom have been under 6 months of age. Although this is not considered an outbreak for our district, outbreaks have been reported in other areas of the country over the same time frame.
Newborns and infants less than 6 months of age are particularly vulnerable to pertussis. They are more likely than any other age group to have serious disease and are more likely to require hospitalization. In rare cases, pertussis can result in death. Newborns and infants are also not yet protected by vaccination as the infant series of immunizations occurs over the first 18 months of life.
Whooping cough is highly infectious and is spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms are respiratory in nature and can include a prolonged cough. Pertussis and the transmission of the bacteria to others are greatly reduced through vaccination. The routine publicly funded vaccinations given to children and youth in Ontario include protection against pertussis. Pertussis vaccines are also included in publicly funded vaccine program for adults.
The Health Unit recommends:
•ALL ADULTS ENSURE THEY ARE UP TO DATE WITH IMMUNIZATION AGAINST PERTUSSIS AND GET THE 10-YEAR BOOSTER VACCINE WITH PERTUSSIS IF THEY HAVE NOT ALREADY RECEIVED IT
◦THIS IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, AND OTHERS WHO MAY BE AROUND NEWBORNS AND INFANTS.
◦PREGNANT WOMEN CAN RECEIVE THE VACCINE AFTER 26 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY – SEE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
•ALL CHILDREN AND YOUTH BE KEPT UP TO DATE WITH THE ROUTINE VACCINATION SCHEDULE, ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE YOUNGER SIBLINGS WHO MAY BE MORE VULNERABLE.
The health unit can and will suspend students from school if vaccinations aren't up to date.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is mandated by the province to enforce the Immunization of School Pupils Act, which in part calls for students to be suspended from school if vaccination requirements aren't being met.
Acting medical officer of health Janet DeMille said notices are heading home with students right now that a parent or guardian must show that a child's records are up to date with the required immunizations.