March 28, 2011 -- The American College of Physicians (ACP) has signed on to a letter drafted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) supporting recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for adolescent and adult pertussis vaccinations. The letter also encourages health care providers to get their own vaccination, and to use an accompanying dosing guide outlining vaccine type and schedule for various groups.
Pertussis, also known as "whooping cough," can cause severe illness and even death for infants less than 1-year-old, though the disease can occur in all ages. Pertussis outbreaks have been reported in areas across the country as early as 2008, with the most serious epidemic arising in California. Nearly 9,500 cases of pertussis were reported in California in 2010, the most cases since 1945 and highest incidence (per 100,000) in 52 years, including 10 infant deaths.
Studies show that infants are most likely to contract pertussis from parents, siblings, grandparents or other members of a household. As a result, the CDC's ACIP now is recommending that new demographic groups -- adults 65-and-older and children ages 7 to 10 -- get the vaccine. The purpose of broadening immunization is to create a protective "cocoon" for newborns and infants, who need time for their own vaccine series to provide protection.
The letter advises health care professionals to be especially mindful about offering the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) vaccine to post-partum or breastfeeding women and family members before the woman's discharge from the hospital or birthing center.
The letter's release coincides with CDC's National Immunization Conference this week, where ANA will highlight the progress of Bringing Immunity to Every Community, a joint ANA-CDC project aimed at increasing vaccination rates and reducing incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Other organizations backing the letter's recommendations include: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics; American College of Nurse Midwives; American Medical Association; Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 130,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.