It’s time to get back to school. It’s not that I have seen many signs announcing this–although the store ads will ramp up so that every kid is sure to get their cache of supplies.
I notice it when my appointment schedule starts filling up with office visits full of 6th graders needing their immunizations updated. Tdap is the immunization most needed at this time of their life. The acronym stands for Tetanus, Diphtheria and acellular Pertussis.
That’s three nasty diseases you don’t want and I don’t want to see. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that produces a neurotoxin. The toxin causes spasmodic contractions of all your muscles (tetany), including those in your chest. You literally are paralyzed into respiratory failure and worse of all, “The patient is usually awake throughout the illness.” So says the medical literature.
Diphtheria also attacks the respiratory system and often leaves a “tenacious gray membrane” that covers the tonsils, pharynx, and other respiratory surfaces. Try swallowing or breathing through that.
Pertussis (also known as the Whooping cough) leads to coughing spasms that can actually lead to respiratory failure–especially in infants and young children. I have actually admitted a few children to the Intensive Care Unit while they recovered from this nasty disease. They literally cough so much they can’t take a breath. When they do, it sounds like a war whoop.
The moral of this story is: GET YOUR CHILDREN IMMUNIZED. And then get them back to school before they drive mom and dad nuts.