WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. and SWIFTWATER, Pa., Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur today launched Grandparents' Corner, a new online resource from the Sounds of Pertussis ® Campaign, to help grandparents learn more about the potential risks of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and the importance of adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination. Researchers found when it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members – including grandparents – were responsible for spreading the disease in up to 80 percent of cases.
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Pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children and infants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that America is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of reported pertussis cases in 50 years. Immunity from early childhood pertussis vaccinations wanes after about five to 10 years, meaning adults – like grandparents – who were immunized as children may no longer be protected.
"As grandparents, it's our responsibility to carry on the legacy of our families, including their health and happiness," said Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, a psychiatrist and expert in the area of grandparent communication. "The first step for grandparents to help protect their families from health risks like pertussis is to learn more, then speak with their children to ensure their family is educated on the topic. Together, they should make sure anyone who comes in contact with the newborn in their life is up-to-date on their adult Tdap vaccination."Dr. Kornhaber, a grandparent himself, helped develop Grandparents' Corner to provide a comprehensive resource for grandparents. On the website, grandparents can read the Grandparents' Guide to Pertussis to learn how adult Tdap vaccination can help protect them and help stop the spread of pertussis to infants; find answers to some frequently asked questions about the transition from "parent" to "grandparent"; and print the New Grandchild Birth Announcement mailer to announce the new addition to their family and encourage family and friends to make sure they are up-to-date on their adult Tdap vaccination before meeting their grandbaby. "Educating others is a big part of asking them to be vaccinated against pertussis to help stop the spread of the disease to your babies," said Sarah Michelle Gellar, actress and the 2013 National Sounds of Pertussis Campaign Ambassador. "While I was busy with the day-to-day care of my newborn, my mother played a key role in helping me spread that message to our family. We hope the information and tools available at Grandparents' Corner will help make this important job easier for a lot of grandparents." Sarah and her mother, Rosellen, are now working together to encourage grandparents across the country to access the customized tools and resources available at Grandparents' Corner. They also hope to increase awareness of the need for adult Tdap vaccination among all adults. "Infants are particularly vulnerable to pertussis because they don't begin receiving their own vaccinations until they are two months old and may not be protected until they have received at least three doses of the infant DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) vaccine," said Edward R.B. McCabe, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and medical director of March of Dimes. "Vaccination remains the best way for adults to help protect themselves and to help stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis." To learn more about pertussis, the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign and Grandparents' Corner, please visit SoundsOfPertussis.com. About PertussisPertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children. In adolescents and adults, it is usually presented as a severe cough that may last for weeks and even months. Pertussis is caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, found in the mouth, nose and throat of the person with the disease; it is spread through contact with respiratory droplets generated when that person coughs or sneezes. Pertussis disease can be treated with antibiotics. If caught early enough, antibiotic treatment may help lessen disease severity. Antibiotic therapy also helps reduce transmission and is important for disease control. In 2012, there were more than 41,000 reported pertussis cases and 18 deaths in the United States, with more than 83 percent of deaths occurring in infants younger than 12 months of age. About the Sounds of Pertussis ® CampaignThe Sounds of Pertussis ® Campaign is a national education campaign from March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur to help raise awareness about the potential dangers of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and the importance of adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination. Started in 2009, the Campaign continues to help educate parents, grandparents, caregivers and others in close contact with infants about the importance of getting vaccinated with the adult Tdap vaccine to help protect themselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to infants.