Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Public Health is warning Squamish residents to ensure they’re protected against whooping cough (pertussis) as the number of people getting the infection is increasing. So far this year (since January 1) in the Howe Sound area there have been twice the number of infections as the historical average. 70 per cent of those people were 18 years old or younger.
Whooping cough causes coughing fits that can turn into a severe illness and last for months. It spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or laughs.
The best way to prevent the illness is by getting vaccinated. Though both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can get whooping cough, people at greatest risk are those who are not fully immunized.
The vaccine is part of the routine (no cost) immunization schedule in B.C. and is given at two months, four months, six months and 18 months of age, again between four and six years of age and in grade nine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization also recommends a single adult dose of the vaccine. This vaccine is available for purchase at some Sea-to-Sky pharmacies.
Infants less than one year are at risk of serious complications of pertussis, including pneumonia, seizures, slowed or stopped breathing, brain inflammation and even death. Newborns, too young to receive the vaccine, are particularly vulnerable. The best way to protect infants is for anyone in contact with them to be fully immunized.
Pertussis can be challenging to diagnose: young children are more likely to have classic symptoms such as runny nose, low grade fever and a mild cough similar to the common cold. Over the next week or two the cough gets worse, leading to severe coughing spells that often end with a whoop, which is where the name of the illness comes from. Symptoms of infection in older children and adults may range from classic symptoms to mild or no cough.
Free vaccine for those eligible is available through public health clinics and some pharmacies.
If you are not sure you are up to date with your immunizations please contact: Squamish Public Health at the Squamish Community Health Centre:
If you think you may have pertussis visit your family doctor or walk-in clinic.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Vancouver Coastal Health