Wednesday, February 22, 2012
A federal advisory panel is recommending that all Americans age 65 and older get vaccinated against whooping cough.
Health officials believe whooping cough is underreported in older adults. But a goal of Wednesday's recommendation is to prevent older adults from spreading the disease to infants, who are most vulnerable.
The shot is already recommended for younger adults and a whooping cough vaccine is included in childhood shots.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath.
Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are usually adopted by the government, which sends the guidance out to doctors.