REGINA – Saskatchewan typically sees 40 whooping cough cases per year but in the past 10 months, they have already confirmed 250 cases.
Fifteen cases involve infants and seven of the 250 were hospitalized.
Whooping cough, otherwise known as pertussis, can be fatal for those who either have a weak immune system or don’t take the proper precautions.
Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab say’s this infectious disease typically runs on a natural reoccurrence cycle of every four to five years.
The only way to stop this cycle is to have as many people vaccinated as possible and he believes the reason why they aren’t getting vaccinated is because of busy schedules.
“The challenge with pertussis is that if you or your child are fully vaccinated you are very unlikely to get hospitalized or seriously ill with pertussis you can get a milder cough that doesn’t go away for a week or two,” Dr. Shahab said.
He recalls many people who book vaccination appointments with their family doctor but later cancel or simply don’t show up because of scheduling conflicts for parents with young children.
“Its not so much of parents not wanting to get vaccinated, its keeping those appointments at two, four and six months, getting those vaccinations on time that seems to just be the challenge,” Dr. Shahab said.
He wants to reiterate to all Saskatchewan residents that all vaccinations are important.
The province offers publicly-funded routine childhood immunizations for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type B, rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox), meningitis and streptococcal bacterial diseases.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is offered to girls beginning in Grade 6.
April 23-30 is national immunization awareness week and the province encourages all residents to check up on their immunization records which can be done safely at their local public health office.
For more information, or schedules of free public immunization clinics visit: www.saskatchewan.ca or call HealthLine 811.