Whoop...Whoop...Whooping Cough Again?

by Sheldon S. Zinberg, M.D.

Older adults might remember the 40’s and 50’s when whooping cough was at epidemic proportions.  Can you recall the kids who were quarantined and who used to have to wear those yellow arm bands telling everyone they were contagious? Remember the little signs that were posted on the front door of the house where a child had Whooping Cough? Well, maybe you don’t remember, but that’s the way it used to be.

Whooping cough, known as Pertussis, has been on the rise. It shouldn’t be dismissed as a benign childhood disease because it can be a very serious problem; and this is especially true for us older adults. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that all adults be vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine…a single shot. This covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). While diphtheria has been almost eliminated and tetanus is pretty rare, whooping cough has been on the rise. In fact, you have to go back to 1959 to find as many cases as are now being reported. So talk to your doctor and see if a shot is the right thing for you.

Sleep Is Important

Now, if you’re not getting enough sleep, vaccinations may not be as effective as we’d like them to be. A new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) demonstrated that folks who get less than 6 hours sleep a night are nearly 12 times more likely to be unprotected than people who get 7 hours or more sleep per night. While the study was done on patients receiving vaccinations for Hepatitis B, it likely holds true for vaccinations in general. It seems that the amount of sleep and not necessarily the quality of sleep can affect our immune response and the amount of protective antibodies we produce in response to a vaccination. So now there’s another important reason to talk to your doctor – not getting enough sleep. 

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