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Three Vaccine-Preventable Illnesses Spreading Among Kids in the Treasure Valley

Kids are prone to sickness this time of year, but some of the most commonly spread illnesses are preventable with vaccination. Stop in at any Primary Health Urgent Care location to get your child vaccinated today.

  1. Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Central District Health reports a recent spike in whooping cough cases in Ada County, with 14 new cases since January 2024. There were only 7 cases total in 2023 and 2 cases total in 2022. Whooping cough happens when the respiratory system becomes infected by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Typically, the most at-risk patients are under 6 months old (before they are fully vaccinated) or 11-18 years old, when vaccine immunity begins to wear off.

The following are common early symptoms of Whooping Cough:

  • Sneezing
  • Mild cough
  • Runny nose
  • Mild fever

This condition involves a mild cough at first, which slowly progresses into coughing spells that last more than a minute and have a whooping sound when the patient inhales. The coughing spells may be so severe that the child vomits afterward. Whooping cough is treatable with antibiotics and usually will resolve within a few weeks. This condition is also preventable with the DTaP pertussis vaccine, given in 5 doses initially before the age of 6, and then a booster shot around age 11 or 12.

  1. Measles

The CDC reports 41 measles cases since January 1, 2024, across 16 U.S. states. This is a significant spike in cases compared to previous years. In the entire year of 2023, only 58 cases of measles were reported. It is vitally important that children be vaccinated for measles to prevent contracting the illness and spreading it to other children. Measles can be a serious and dangerous illness for children. It is one of the most contagious illnesses known by healthcare professionals. Measles is most commonly spread through the air – when an infected individual sneezes or coughs, and a healthy person inhales the droplets. It can also be spread through direct contact with mouth and nose fluids from an infected individual.

Commonly, measles presents with the following symptoms:

  • Red or brown blotchy rash
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • High fever
  • Red, watery eyes

Pediatricians recommend that kids be vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at age 12-15 months and then again at 4-6 years old. The Measles vaccine is safe for children and 95% effective for those with one dose of the vaccine, and 97-99% effective for those who have received both doses.

  1. Influenza (Flu)

The CDC reports weekly flu case totals across the U.S., with Idaho falling within the “high” category for influenza activity level through the end of February 2024. The flu is a common illness among children and adults alike. Flu symptoms can vary in severity depending on the individual case. The following are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny/ stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Patients who are experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to visit their medical provider to get tested for the flu. This illness is commonly treated with over-the-counter medications and, in some cases, anti-viral medication. Influenza is preventable with the annual flu vaccine. CDC recommendations assert that anyone who hasn’t received the flu vaccine yet for this year should still get vaccinated as long as the virus is spreading.

Vaccinations for whooping cough, measles and influenza are available at all Primary Health Urgent Care locations. Walk in or book your urgent care appointment ahead of time.