Whooping Cough Epidemic Still Raging in Washington State
The Washington State Department of Health (DoH) has released its latest data on the continuing whooping cough epidemic in the state. For 2012, through May 19, 1,736 cases of pertussis have been reported. For the same period in 2011, there were 146 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have the latest data on immunization rates in the state of Washington. The data was provided for students entering kindergarten and those entering sixth grade. The 2010-2011 school year is the latest data.
Washington requires that kindergartners have five pertussis immunizations to be considered up to date. 94.4 percent of the schools with kindergartens provided data covering 96.4% of kindergartners. 5.5 percent of the students had one type of exemption or another, with the personal / philosophical exemption given to 3.8 percent, 2,762 students.
For 2009-2010, 3,808 kindergartners had the personal / philosophical exemption. In 2008-2009, the exemption was given to 4,928 students. In 2007-2008, there were 4,328 students exempted in that manner. Those students are now ages 5 to 9. In the latest DoH data, 21 percent of whooping cough cases are in 5 through 9 age group.
Washington is reporting that 425 pertussis cases have been diagnosed in the 10 to 13 age group, 25 percent of all cases. This is the middle school demographic, and the CDC reports also cover those immunization percentages. In 2010, only 83.6 percent of Washington students in sixth grade met the state’s whooping cough immunization requirements. In 2010-2011, 4,088 sixth graders received the personal / philosophical exemption from immunizations.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases describes how widespread immunizations protect those in the community who cannot receive a vaccine due to age or other impairment. It is known as “community immunity” or “herd immunity”. Los Angeles County Public Health estimates that 94 percent immunization against pertussis is necessary for “herd immunity” to become effective. The number of immunization exemptions and the low rate of Tdap immunizations for middle schoolers provides a large pool of children vulnerable to whooping cough. 46 percent of all pertussis cases in 2012 are in children who ought to have been fully immunized under Washington law.
This entry was posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012 at 5:57 pm and is filed under Medicine, Original writing, Original writing, Reporting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.