Recommendations for Tdap vaccine change

The recommended administration of a vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, has changed for 2013.

Auglaize County Health Department Nursing Supervisor Cindy Jones said the new recommendations for when Tdap should be administered is a “big change.”

The changes include a recommendation that the vaccine be administered to pregnant women during each pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks gestation, regardless of the number of years it has been since the expectant mother last received the vaccine.

The 2013 Immunization Schedule, approved by Auglaize County Health Board members this week, also recommends Tdap be administered to all adults not previously receiving the vaccine, regardless of the last time they were vaccinated for any of the individual components.

The idea is that the protection could be passed on to infants, more of whom have been contracting pertussis, or whooping cough, Jones said.

“At this time, that first vaccine is not offered until their 2-month visits,” Jones said. “It can be devastating to little ones if they get it.”

She said through the years, the recommended interval between receiving the vaccine has varied, starting at 10 years, then going to 2 years, and now with no interval recommended.

“Newborns need that protection now,” Jones said, noting that the county has seen several cases of whooping cough in infants.

She also is working to educate local medical providers.

“Everything that coughs is not the flu,” Jones said. “We have had several cases and I think there is much more out there than is diagnosed.”

The nursing supervisor said she isn’t blaming the medical community, but asks patients to bring “all the pieces to the puzzle” with them to appointments so they can receive a proper diagnosis.

She advised them to stay with one physician and record symptoms if possible, it is how one mother recently got a diagnosis of whooping cough for her child after multiple visits to a physician.

During January, there were five reported cases of pertussis in Auglaize County — all children, ranging in age from 3 to 15 years old.

Jones said it confirms the reasoning behind the requirement of the Tdap booster vaccine for students entering the seventh grade.

According to the CDC, since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of cases of pertussis, especially among preteens and teens and babies younger than 6-months-old. In 2010, there were 27,550 reported cases of pertussis nationally with 26 deaths reported. Several states have reported increases in cases or localized outbreaks of pertussis, including a statewide epidemic in California.

The CDC recommends the Tdap vaccine beginning with preteens and teens, whose original immunization as children has begun to wear off.

Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres said he tries to give the Tdap, rather than just the tetanus, to people who come in with injuries.

“I care less about a little cut and more about prevention in the future for a grandchild,” Torres said.