Best-Practice Guidelines to Decrease Pertussis Transmission During The First Six Months of Life
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Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness that has been on the rise for the last decade, and in 2011 levels of infected individuals reached its highest levels since the 1950’s in the United States. Infants under the age of six months of age are the most vulnerable population to this infection. This cohort is the most susceptibility to contracting this illness and most prone to significant consequences including high rates of hospitalization, respiratory complications and mortality from the disease. Due to the increased risk to infants less than six months of age, efforts to decrease the transmission of pertussis within this age group are necessary. This paper reviews the current practice guidelines to minimize the transmission of pertussis to infants less than six months of age and as well as evidence describing ways to decrease the risk to these infants. The current recommendations include initiating and following the Center of Disease Control and Prevention childhood immunization schedule; vaccinating women after the twentieth week of pregnancy to support passive immunity to newborn; encouraging cocooning of infants through immunizing persons who are in close contact with the infant; and promoting herd immunity within communities to decrease transmission.