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Nevadan Learns the Hard Way: Adults Need Vaccinations, Too

Reno resident Jack Perkins isn’t exactly the person you’d expect to be a poster child for whooping cough.

He’s a professional. He’s a father. He’s an avid runner and was thrilled to participate in the Boston Marathon last year.  As an added bonus, right after the race, Jack and his wife took a trip to Europe and spent two weeks visiting Belgium, England and Iceland.

But that European vacation is exactly where Jack developed a severe cough — fits that happened primarily at night, accompanied by difficulty breathing and a terrible whooping sound when he inhaled after he coughed.

The Diagnosis: Whooping Cough

So he went to Urgent Care and then his primary care doctor upon his return to Nevada. As Jack’s doctor listened to the description and examined him, he concluded it likely was whooping cough and put him on a course of antibiotics.

For Jack, it was a major inconvenience — a dream vacation interrupted by sickness, six weeks without running — but he soon realized the disease could have far more devastating consequences. Around this time, two of Jack’s nieces had babies. He made the decision to stay far away from them, knowing that whooping cough can be deadly to infants. 

But how did this active, healthy adult contract what is commonly considered a childhood disease?

Jack did some research on whooping cough and learned the vaccine he’d received as a child had likely worn off.  In fact, it is recommended that anyone who comes into contact with an infant should get a booster for the Tdap vaccine — which stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Simply knowing how sick he had become as an adult with whooping cough, Jack immediately knew he should get the Tdap vaccine, especially so he did not spread the illness to a child or someone with a compromised immune system.

“It is short-sighted to refuse vaccines just for yourself,” Jack said, adding that being vaccinated is a way to protect himself, his family and the community in which he lives.   

CDC-Recommended Adult Vaccinations

As we age, it’s easy to think that immunization recommendations are simply the concerns of parents of small children. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends many vaccinations for adults, as well — not only to protect yourself, but also to keep those around you healthy. Among the recommendations:

  • annual flu vaccine;
  • tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap);
  • shingles;
  • pneumococcal ;
  • and others, depending on age and existing health conditions.

Immunize Nevada has a simple chart provided by the CDC listing the recommended immunizations by age for adults over the age of 19 here.

For Jack, the experience of contracting whooping cough as an adult inspired him to research other recommended adult vaccines; because he often traveled to Mexico for work, he chose to get vaccinated for Typhoid and Hepatitis A.

For more information about recommended vaccinations for travel, visit Immunize Nevada’s “Travel” page.

And he had a few more reasons to stay up-to-date with CDC recommendations as well: his nieces’ babies were top of mind, as was his passion for his favorite hobby.

“Because I run so much, I wanted to make sure I was in good enough shape to run,” said Jack, noting that vaccines are a great way to prevent himself from getting sick from vaccine-preventable diseases — and certainly as a way to prevent him from spreading diseases to others.

Immunize Nevada

Immunize Nevada, an award winning 501c3 non profit, is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration.