Student Health Services Health News- Fall 2006
Have You Had Your Shots?
The time has come once again for UL Lafayette Student Health Services to remind the entire university community of ways in which we can all improve our health and the health of those around us. Prevention is the key for many things that ail us, in particular the prevention of conditions which can be passed on to others. Adults in settings where they are exposed to large numbers of people are at higher risk for exposure to many infectious illnesses.
We’ve all heard of tetanus shots, flu shots, and the Hepatitis B shot series. These are important, and you certainly should check with your doctor to see if you are up to date on these. There’s a new disease on the horizon, though, that’s attracting some attention. It’s been around a really long time, and we thought we had it licked, but it’s coming back. It’s called pertussis… otherwise known as “Whooping Cough”.
The pertussis vaccine was first given to children in the 1940’s, when there was a significant death rate from pertussis, mostly in infants. Cases of the disease continued to decrease until the 1970’s, and then the number of cases began to rise again. It was found that the vaccine didn’t give life-long protection from infection. Now, pertussis is more common in young adults, who tend not to be as severely ill as young children. The illness can cause spasms of coughing with vomiting for weeks, and can interfere with school and work. For that reason, a new form of tetanus vaccine which includes protection from pertussis (as well as another contagious illness called diphtheria) has been developed. It’s more expensive than the older vaccine, but hopefully this new vaccine will prevent the spread of pertussis in young adults and the people who care for them. The vaccine is called the Tdap, and it’s coming to a doctor’s office near you. In fact, it’s probably already arrived.
I’m sure that the parents among us would never dream of depriving our children of medical care that could protect them from contagious or life threatening illnesses. That’s why we bring them to their doctor as infants for shots and well visits. Sometimes, though, we don’t take care of ourselves as we should. Shots for the prevention of disease shouldn’t stop when we reach adulthood. Have you had your shots?