Rising Whooping Cough Cases in Czech Republic, Many Unvaccinated Children Affected

The Czech Republic has witnessed a concerning surge in cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, with the majority of affected individuals being unvaccinated children, including those of school age. According to the State Health Institute (SZU), there have been 127 reported cases of whooping cough this year, up to the end of September, marking a two-fold increase compared to the previous year.

Experts have underscored that the infection poses the greatest risk to young children who have not yet completed their mandatory vaccination. In the Czech Republic, vaccination against whooping cough is compulsory and is a prerequisite for admission to kindergarten. The disease is known to be highly contagious, and unvaccinated individuals, especially children, are particularly vulnerable.

Moreover, the spread of whooping cough is not confined to the Czech Republic alone. The SZU has highlighted that the disease is also on the rise in several other European countries.

SZU director Barbora Mackova emphasized the importance of pertussis vaccination, stating that it is one of the compulsory vaccines. She noted that the growing number of cases suggests that the disease is disproportionately affecting those who refuse to be vaccinated. Parents who have concerns about vaccination are encouraged to consult with a pediatrician to address their questions and apprehensions.

Notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic, droplet infections, including whooping cough, were less prevalent, given the implementation of public health measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Consequently, the number of whooping cough cases remained relatively low in recent years compared to the pre-pandemic era. However, experts anticipate a further increase in cases, given the recent upward trend.

In previous instances of rising pertussis incidence, it has led to increased morbidity in young children, including hospitalizations. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the disease, which can cause severe complications, including increased pressure in the lungs and a subsequent risk of heart failure.

Katerina Fabianova, deputy head of SZU’s Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, emphasized that the most common source of illness for the youngest children is their immediate surroundings, such as siblings, parents, grandparents, and other individuals in close contact with them.

The pertussis vaccination is typically administered as part of the hexavaccine, given to young children. However, experts have noted that immunity gradually decreases after vaccination, necessitating re-vaccination at the age of ten or eleven. Furthermore, they recommend considering additional vaccinations in adulthood to enhance overall immunity against whooping cough.

Article by Prague Forum

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