Two years ago, I had mono. Last year I got whooping cough (pertussis). So far this year’s been ok. I even tested negative for TB.

I hadn’t been aware until last year that our whooping cough vaccinations wore off. It’s just something we think of as fixed.

Then I spent a night coughing for hours and hours until I threw up. I actually didn’t think much of it, maybe a bug? But then I spent another night with the coughing (not the vomiting, fortunately) and decided to visit my health center. The nurse told me that there was actually a fair amount going around campus.

She said the vaccinations wear off after adolescence and that most people don’t consider getting the booster shot. Or they have no idea that it exists because doctors don’t push the point. The odds of actually dying get lower as our bodies get stronger. But it’s still a painful, frustrating, and exhausting experience.

They were able to give me some steroids to boost my immune response and some good cough medicine, the kind with narcotics. That helped me make it through the week and I began to feel ok again.

Would I have gotten the shot if I’d known? I don’t know–almost definitely if it was covered by my insurance. Maybe even if not if it was something like $20.

Recently CNN wrote about this–which reminded me of my own experience. They said that adults also aren’t getting vaccinations for shingles or HPV.

Now I just have to convince my doctors’ office to send my vaccination records to my hospital employer. At least I don’t have TB.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net January 24, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I’m pretty sure I had it when I was pregnant with my daughter. The coughing….awful!

Coincidentally, right now there’s a pertussis outbreak in a town just south of us. There are a higher than average number of people there who don’t believe in vaccines, and every few years we hear about an outbreak.

Hilda January 24, 2008 at 2:53 pm

It’s very important to be up to date with your vaccinations especially since you work in the hospital. Even if you have to pay for it, it’s definitely worth getting. Oh, and don’t forget tetanus booster shots, too.

Rete January 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

I will definitely get more info on the shingles vaccine — my aunt had that and said it was the worst pain EVER. But I’ve read too much bad info about the HPV vaccine and testing still being done to trust it. One study said it actually increased the risks of cancers instead of decreasing them.

Amanda January 24, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I think studies also show that children usually get whooping cough from their parents, whose immunity has worn off.

There was a pertussis outbreak in our area last winter (or the one before), too.

I think you know that I feel strongly about the efficacy of vaccines, so I appreciate your post, Mrs. M. I was beginning to think I was one of the few “nuts” out there who still got vaccines and had their children vaccinated. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reminding people about things like this. πŸ™‚ It makes me smile. πŸ™‚

plonkee January 24, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Wow, I had no idea. I’ve never heard of anyone getting whooping cough before, although it features prominently in old children’s books that I love.

It’s my understanding (from the UK where all vaccines are free πŸ™‚ )that adults aren’t recommended as strongly for HPV vaccines because most of the population are already carriers and unsurprisingly it’s not as effective then.

deepali January 24, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Oh, you hit one of my hot buttons. πŸ™‚

Pertussis is still a serious problem, so get your kids (and yourself!) vaccinated, dagnabbit. We’re lucky it’s only pertussis and not something like smallpox.

Not to pick on you, but you illustrate a good point – being UTD on your vaccines would have prevented the pertussis. For people who have bad reactions to steroids (like me), it can prevent so many problems down the road.

mrsmicah January 24, 2008 at 5:24 pm

The same week I got pertussis, plonkee, I got a call from a friend who’d gotten TB. We decided that whooping cough and consumption sounded about right for two English majors. Of course hers isn’t a laughing matter, but she tries to find the fun in it. She made it through a brain tumor too. Benign.

I agree, deepali. As I see it, vaccines are a great development on the whole. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t emphasize them for adults. We just aren’t told that there are boosters and whatnots…except for tetanus.

vh January 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Great zot! I had no idea. Definitely will get a booster for that.

I get the tetanus booster every now & again, but none of my quacks have suggested a DPT booster.

Hereabouts, insurance doesn’t cover the shingles vaccine. I’m told it’s upwards of $125, and because it’s so pricey, few doctors’ offices have it on hand. People I know who have had the joy of being revisited by the chickenpox virus say it’s excruciating…so it sounds like couple hundred bucks for a shot is well worth the price.

Another thing you should get as you’re doddering toward the nursing home is the pneumonia vaccine. Providers who sell flu shots often will offer the pneumonia vaccine, too — you don’t need this every year, though (thank goodness, ’cause it made me a shade sickly). An acquaintance croaked over from community-acquired pneumonia. He picked it up on a cruise ship…so this appears to be an Indispensable for us old bats and buzzards.

Jesse January 25, 2008 at 11:39 am

Actually interesting that you posted this, someone that sits near me at work actually was diagnosed this week with whooping cough. One of the guys on my team and I will be flying out for business all week next week and apparently its contagious enough to where we are being encouraged to get z-packs before we leave as a precaution. Nasty!

plonkee January 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Actually, the TB doesn’t surprise me. Multi drug resistant TB is a big problem in major British cities. But yes, very apt illnesses for literary types.

mrsmicah January 25, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Fortunately, I’ve tested negative a second time for TB. Hospitals make you have two tests when you first start unless you’ve had a test in the last year. Then you only need one. It’s kind of crazy, I have a friend who’s interned at three hospitals in the last 2.5 years and has gotten 4 TB tests.

Once you get all the testing done, there’s an annual check just in case.

JvW January 27, 2008 at 12:11 am

I just got the vaccine for whooping cough 2 weeks ago! My doc suggested that I get a tetanus booster and they had a combo shot, so I figured, why not?

Tanya February 7, 2008 at 11:35 am

Man, I had whooping cough in high school. I went to a boarding school and they kept me in quarantine (got it from my seatmate in orchestra, who picked it up going home to Malaysia.) Yuck! Of course, I just got (what I thought was) a positive TB test… went to get a second test to make sure? Yep, pos.

Tadsmom April 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Plonkee, when you say that multi drug resistant TB is going around in British cities. I was just wondering if they had the same symptoms as whooping cough. Just curious. Because from what I hear the symptoms can be similar. Oh, and if TB is active a PPD test can produce a false negative due to weakened immune response. Get blood work if this is even suspected. Especially if you work or worked in healthcare. I really think that this TB thing may be in the U.S. too. Lots of people are getting pneumonia (could be from untreated T.B. or whooping cough, just a thought). Everywhere I go I hear people with that weird cough.

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