Health officials urge pertussis booster shotsby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — State and federal health officials are urging physicians and patients to get a booster vaccine to protect against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
Minnesota is in its third year of a pertussis wave. More than 1,000 cases were reported in the state in each of the last three years.
Pertussis is a bacterial disease that causes a severe cough that can last four to six weeks or longer.
Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for the Minnesota Department of Health, says pertussis can be deadly, especially for babies.
"We do know that pertussis is most severe in young infants. So the more disease we have, the greater likelihood that infants will be exposed and infected," she said. "We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep pertussis under control."
A pertussis outbreak in California led to the deaths of 10 infants last year.
A booster vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis has been available since 2005, and is recommended for children entering seventh grade and adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that children who never got a primary pertussis vaccination can now get the booster dose as early as age 7.