Increasing numbers of pertussis cases are being reported in Innsbruck. In addition, a high number of unreported and undiagnosed cases is assumed. Meanwhile, newborns and infants are already affected.
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a very contagious, droplet-transmitted disease with an infection period of at least five weeks. With antibiotic therapy, the period of contagiousness is shortened to about five days after starting therapy.
How do I recognize whooping cough?
The disease is characterized by severe coughing attacks (staccato cough, followed by dragging when inhaling) until vomiting. In adults, however, the disease is not always typical. The cough can last for weeks to months and is very distressing.
Children under six months of age are particularly at risk and may also experience respiratory failure.
Is it possible to vaccinate against whooping cough?
- Yes! In principle, it is possible to protect oneself through vaccination.
- Newborns must be vaccinated for the first time at the beginning of the third month of life with the 6-fold vaccine, since the nest protection is only weakly developed.
- Non-immune pregnant women are recommended to be vaccinated in the last trimester of pregnancy to protect newborns at least the first few weeks by transferring antibodies through the placenta.
- All persons around newborns and infants should have current vaccination protection that is no older than five years.
How often and when should children be vaccinated?
The complete vaccination series with a combination vaccine for infants and young children consists of three injections. Already after the first dose, infants have an approximately 40 percent lower risk of disease than unvaccinated infants. After the second vaccination, immune protection increases to 60 to 70 percent. After the third vaccination, immune protection is present in over 80 percent. For this very reason, it is especially important that the pertussis vaccination be started as early as the third month of life, so that vaccine protection is available by the sixth month of life at the latest, but most likely by the fifth month of life.
Should siblings of newborns be vaccinated?
Yes. Since no reliable immune protection can be achieved for the infant for the first four to five months, it is particularly important that siblings or family members in particular are also protected against the disease. Thus, in a family with an infant, it is essential that all contacts be vaccinated or boostered (refreshed) against pertussis to reduce the likelihood that the infant will become infected.
How often and when should adults be vaccinated?
Adults generally need only a single vaccination with a pertussis component, which should then be boostered every ten years until age 60, and then every five years thereafter, according to the Austrian vaccination schedule.
Can I be contagious despite vaccination?
Yes. In outbreak situations, vaccination prevents disease from occurring in the vaccinated person, but unfortunately does not safely prevent short-term carriage, so vaccinated healthy persons can also be contagious. This makes it more difficult to break the chain of infection.
For this reason, however, prevention with antibiotics should also be recommended to vaccinated close contacts, especially if they have contact with newborns, infants, pregnant women, or persons with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases or belong to such groups themselves.
Family members around a person with pertussis are especially at risk for infection. Here, the contact persons may also visit community facilities only after antibiotics have been administered.
Anyone who suffers from severe coughing attacks to the point of vomiting or who has a severe cough for more than two weeks should be screened for pertussis.
Can I get a booster vaccination at the Public Health Unit?
Follow-up vaccinations, vaccination certificate checks, and vaccination counseling for school-age children are available in the Service Unit Healthcare.. possible,
Adults please contact their established physicians.
What should I do if I come into contact with people who have the disease?
For close contacts without vaccination protection in the family, the residential community or in communal facilities, chemoprophylaxis (prevention with antibiotics) is recommended. Vaccinated contact persons are largely protected from the disease, but may be temporarily colonized with the pathogens (bordetelles) and thus represent a source of infection. Therefore, vaccinated close contacts should also receive chemoprophylaxis (antibiotics) as a precaution, especially if there are persons at risk in their environment, such as unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated infants or children with underlying cardiac or pulmonary diseases (underlying diseases in the heart/lung area).
For further information, please contact Service Unit Healthcare.. is at your disposal.