Did you know that right now in Australia we're facing a Whooping Cough (Pertussis) epidemic? Pertussis is one of those childhood illnesses we almost had licked. But then, probably because of the anti vaccination movement and general apathy to vaccination, parents stopped vaccinating their kids and adults didn't get their booster shots and this deadly disease rears its ugly head again.
Last week a 5 week old baby died in South Australia and last year 3 babies, including 4 week old Dana MacCaffrey, from the North Coast of NSW died of this horrible disease. The SA health department reported around 2700 cases of pertussis for the first half of this year. For the same period last year there were about 1400 cases reported. Nationally the figures are even worse.
The reason these babies died from this preventable illness is because they were too young to be vaccinated. New born babies rely on herd immunity, the rest of the community being vaccinated, to protect them from diseases like whooping cough. By the community I mean us. Everybody. Especially those people who come into contact with children and babies. As vaccination rates have fallen herd immunity isn't as effective as it once was. Unfortunately for the babies that died they probably came into contact with a person who was carrying the disease. The more people who remain unvaccinated and the more cases that occur the more chance unvaccinated babies will have of coming into contact with carriers of this preventable disease. Remember that, preventable disease.
Unfortunately the Whooping Cough immunisation doesn't last a life time so a DTP booster shot should be administered every 5 to 10 years. DTP stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis. We had the DTP shot 5 years ago when we went to Africa.
What can I do and why should I give a shit? Well, I'm glad you asked. If you know me there is a good chance you know that we are expecting a little girl in December. If you're family there's an even better chance that you will be meeting said little girl shortly after she is born and probably when she is most vulnerable to nasty preventable infections. You can help by wandering in to your local GP and getting the DTP or Pertussis jab between now and December. It doesn't hurt and it is cheap. Fuck, if you're visiting our new baby in 2011 I'll pay for it if you're a tight arse or you don't have the finances. Even if you don't know me and you will probably never meet my baby you should, for the sake of your community and herd immunity, get the jab (but you'll have to pay for it yourself though).
Now before you roll your eyes and think that this daddy to be is just being paranoid remember that babies are dying from a preventable disease. That is stupid. No babies should be dying from Whooping Cough. I know that shit happens and babies die from a myriad of things and some of those things can't be prevented. But wouldn't you like to be proactive and do something today that may just save a life?
Oh, and by the way, some doctors are unaware of the risk and may be reluctant to give adults boosters. The booster for adults has apparently only been around since 2005 after all. If they won't give you a booster see another doctor.
What are you still doing here? Do us a favour and go see your doctor. Now.