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Project Immunize Virginia Urges Adults to get Whooping Cough Vaccine

Adults are much more likely to die from illnesses preventable with vaccines, because so many people think shots are just for children.

Immunization shots aren’t just for children – Project Immunize Virginia, a statewide coalition that promotes timely vaccinations, are urging adults to get up-to-date on their shots to prevent harmful disease.

“More than 50,000 adults across the country die each year from diseases that could have been prevented by a simple immunization,” said Michelle Charters, director of Project Immunize Virginia, in a release this week. “In fact, adults are 100 times more likely than children to die from a vaccine-preventable disease because they mistakenly believe shots are just for kids. The reality is that diseases don’t discriminate – people of all ages need to be immunized.”

In a phone interview with Patch, Charters said the coalition, which has been around for 17 years, is particularly concerned with pertussis, or whooping cough, in 2012.

According to provisional counts at the United States Center for Disease Control, more than 22,000 cases of whooping cough had been reported across the United States as of August 11, 2012, a dramatic increase compared to the 18,719 reported cases during all of 2011.

, and the coalition doesn’t want adults to help spread it.

“Often, adults or older kids are where it starts,” Charters said. “You can have it and not have symptoms for a little while, so you can go to the grocery store and spread it without even knowing.”

Charters said her organization was making a “big push” to raise awareness and make sure that both parents and children get the vaccine, more commonly known the Tdap booster. Charters said it was fortunate that Virginia has regulations requiring children to get the booster shot before entering 6th grade.

The sounds of pertussis are marked by a “whoop” made when gasping for breath after a severe coughing attack, and it can be spread through contact with respiratory secretions, primarily coughing and sneezing. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease, but practicing frequent and thorough hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes with the upper sleeve or a tissue can also help limit its spread and other respiratory infections. 

The disease most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age, according to the CDC web site.

Charters also stressed the importance of keeping good vaccination records.

“Finding those records and keeping a copy is really important,” she said, “because you never know when you, as an adult, have to show proof that you have it, and nobody wants to go through another set [of shots] again.”

Click here for more information on Project Immunize Virginia

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