More vaccine readied to battle whooping cough

Health officials fear pertussis outbreak in eastern Fraser Valley may move west

  • Feb. 3, 2012 11:00 a.m.
Fraser Health has confirmed more than 100 cases of pertussis

Fraser Health has confirmed more than 100 cases of pertussis

More vaccine doses are being stockpiled in case an outbreak of whooping cough in the eastern Fraser Valley spreads further west.

Hope, Agassiz and Chilliwack have so far seen most of the more than 100 confirmed local cases of pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes adults to cough for months but can be deadly to babies.

Fraser Health will acquire another 50,000 doses of vaccine by the second week of February in case public health officials decide to widen their immunization program, which has so far focused on the eastern Valley.

“We’ve seen sporadic cases in Maple Ridge, in Langley and in Surrey, so we know there’s some disease out there,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder.

“If it’s necessary in the next week or two we will run a program for the whole of the Fraser Valley.”

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is considered more of an irritant for adults, but they act as carriers.

Van Buynder said about half the very young children who contract pertussis are hospitalized and about one or two per cent of those hospitalized die.

Three-quarters of infants infected get it from parents or close family members.

California had a huge outbreak in 2009 that claimed the lives of 10 children, five more died in Saskatchewan in 2010 and two more children died last year just across the border in Washington State, where authorities are still battling an outbreak.

“This is a nasty disease and it’s back in the Fraser Valley after an absence of about eight years,” Van Buynder said.

Part of the challenge is that health authorities no longer use an older, more powerful vaccine due to concern over its side effects.

The weaker vaccine that replaced it provides immunity for only about four to 10 years, Van Buynder said.

Fraser Health wants to immunize all adults in outbreak areas who have close contact with young children, to prevent transmission to the most vulnerable.

“We know that there are some parts of the Fraser Valley where there are groups of parents who don’t believe in the importance of immunization and they place the rest of the community at significant risk,” Van Buynder said.

The new vaccine takes at least three doses to fully protect a child, he said, so Fraser Health is now vaccinating them earlier – as young as 14 weeks.

Pregnant women are also being vaccinated, Van Buynder said, because it’s safe to use during pregnancy and immunity will extend to the newborn.

Cases of pertussis in the eastern Valley took off in mid-December in Hope and nearby First Nations reserves.

“We’ve started to see the spread of it down the Fraser Valley moving westward,” Van Buynder said, adding the most recent cases have been in Chilliwack.

Two children have been hospitalized so far and one infected several weeks ago is still fighting the disease in B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Video

2008 story from ImmunizeBC of one B.C. family’s experience with pertussis.

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read