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Whooping Cough Vaccine, Not Just for Children

Dr. Saqib Masood, a physician with the Children’s Doctor in Hagerstown, said the real problem is with patients over the age of 11 who don't get the booster.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Pertussis, or whooping cough, is associated with babies and young children. It's a highly contagious respiratory infection, and a recent study released by Emory University shows a spike in cases because of a lack of vaccination.

"Having all this misinterpretation about the vaccination, it sometimes gets really difficult for us to get through that battle with the parents," said Dr. Vandana Sajankila, a practicing physician at the Children’s Doctor in Hagerstown. 

And at the Children's Doctor, physicians find a range of views on vaccinations. Sanjankila said social media has fueled the surge against vaccination. She urges parents, and patients to talk with their physician about their options.

One local mom of three did just that with her husband who works in the medical field. They decided for vaccinating their daughters, ages seven, five and 16 months.

"You know, if you do get these things that we're vaccinating against, it can be life threatening. So we feel its worth, I mean, I know there's some risk when you get them, but we feel like it's worth the risk," said Lauren Doyle Vaccay.

Pertussis vaccinations aren't usually administered until two-months of age, then again at four months, six months, with another dose at 15 months, and a booster at four-years-old. The immunization lasts until about age ten.

Dr. Saqib Masood, another physician with the Children’s Doctor, said the real problem is with patients over the age of 11 who don't get the booster.

Maryland Public Schools are making it mandatory for seventh grade students to get a TDAP booster starting next fall. This covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

The booster was just introduced about five years ago, and doctors recommend adults get it too.

"There was a study that all the pertussis cases are usually the source is either the parents or the grandparents," said Dr. Masood.

Dr. Masood said they did have a confirmed case of whooping cough last year.

And according to the Washington County Health Department, there have been 10 confirmed cases of pertussis in the past five years.
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