NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - To help combat the increase of pertussis cases in infants, Hampton Roads health districts are implementing a targeted immunization strategy called "cocooning."
A cocoon is a nurturing environment that envelopes and protects new life. Similarly, members of local communities are encouraged to create a "cocoon" of protection, by ensuring that a booster dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is given to postpartum women, contacts/caregivers of infants younger than 1 year, and health care providers, especially those who treat infants less than 1 year of age, a Virginia Department of Health news release said.
The release said pertussis has been increasing amongst infants nationally, statewide, and locally. In addition, some 80 to 85 percent of the pertussis sources are family members and caretakers.
The Virginia Department of Health says that cocooning is necessary for the following reasons:
- 91 percent of the deaths from pertussis in the last decade are in infants, 6 months of age or less.
- More than 50 percent of infants, less than 1 year of age, who get pertussis must be hospitalized.
- Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more, with the disease being communicable in the first 3 weeks.
- Less than 10 percent of adults have protection from the disease and 4 out of 5 adults with the disease are capable of spreading the germ and have no symptoms. Most adults don't seek medical treatment and/or not diagnosed.
- A 2007 study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, reports that 44 percent of the source of pertussis infection in infants was a parent, sibling or grandparent. Other caregivers (i.e., daycare providers etc.) are included in the remaining 56 percent.
Health officials said the Tdap vaccine is safe, with minimal side effects. It can be given even if a recent tetanus and diphtheria (Td) shot has been received.
The vaccine is recommended and approved for use in:
- Pregnant women in the last weeks of the 2nd trimester or during the 3rd trimester
- Women immediately after giving birth
- Any woman who may become pregnant
- Routine tetanus and diphtheria booster or wound management,
- All adults who anticipate having close contact with an infant less than 12 months of age
- Healthcare workers
- Booster before 6th grade
- College enrollees
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