LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The U.S. may be headed for its worst year of whooping cough in more than five decades, with the number of cases rising at an alarming rate. So far, nine children have died in the nearly 18-thousand cases that have been reported so far this year. That's more than twice the number of cases seen at the same time last year, according to AP. Despite the alarming numbers, East Texas health officials say with proper prevention, these statistics won't be a cause for concern in the Pineywoods.
"The preventative is a lot better than the disease itself," said Donald Lloyd, a father of three.
To protect his household from illnesses, such as the whooping cough epidemic spreading across the country, Lloyd came into the Angelina County Health District Monday to receive his booster shot.
"To make sure that I was healthy, safe, and that if I was to come in contact with any of these diseases, I didn't have to worry about catching them," said Lloyd.
Whooping cough is an infection that attacks the respiratory system and can be highly contagious. Children's immune systems are not fully developed, which makes them the most vulnerable to contracting and even dying from the illness.
"With their immune systems being down, it's a lot easier for them to get them. So, we want to make sure that we prevent them so they don't end up with long-term injuries caused by it," said Lloyd.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say this is the worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades. Angelina County and Cities Health District Immunization Director Sarah Adams says, so far, no cases have been reported in Angelina County, and she hopes to keep it that way.
"What a lot of the medical community is asking is that new moms and dads get a TDAP vaccine, along with any close family members, so they can actually do a cocooning effect of that infant," said Adams.
Adams recommends all adults should get a booster shot every ten years. She also says Texas recently began a new mandate requiring all kids to get a Tdap booster shot before entering seventh grade.
"The reason that people are having to get that vaccine now is because their childhood immunizations wane, and then so you boost, you know. You get a booster done between the ages of 11 to 13," said Adams.
While there is no specific shot against the whooping cough, staying current on your booster shots significantly helps ward off the illness. The Angelina County Health District offers Td and Tdap booster shots for a small fee. Patients are welcome Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. To 5 p.m.