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Pertussis vaccine guidelines revised by pediatricians: Why?

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Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination recommendations have changed. istockphoto

(CBS) In the wake of recent outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough), the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its guidelines for the use of the so-called Tdap vaccine, which prevents diphtheria and tetanus as well as pertussis.

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The new guidelines call for broader use of the vaccine, with the overall goal of providing protection against pertussis for all people who might have contact with infants, Dr. Sarah Long, chief of infectious disease at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia and one of the authors of the revised guidelines.

The revised guidelines were published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

"Changes in recommendation for pertussis vaccination have come about as a consequence of the re-emergence of whooping cough," Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.

The recommendations call for a dose of Tdap to be given to children seven to 10 years of age who were "underimmunized" or whose vaccination status is uncertain, according to a written statement issued by the academy. The vaccine should also be given to adolescents and to pregnant women, as well as to adults, including grandparents, who have contact with infants and to all health-care workers.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes violent, uncontrollable coughing, often accompanied by fever, vomiting, runny nose, and diarrhea. The coughing can make it hard to breathe and can be fatal to infants.

The CDC has more on whooping cough.

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