Pertussis Brings Early Winter Break for Salisbury Students
By Lindsay Bauer
Due to five confirmed cases of whooping cough within the Salisbury School District, the decision to close schools from December 21st to the 23rd kicked off an early winter break for all students. The first case was confirmed on December 10th and additional students were being tested at the time of the closings.
All club and sporting activities between the 21st and 27th were postponed, with school resuming again on Monday, January 4th. Make up days will take place on Friday, February 12, Thursday, March 24, and Friday, June 10.
Although the decision to close schools did not come lightly, it was made as an effort to constrain the spread of the disease and on the recommendation of the PA Department of Health. Highly contagious, pertussis is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It will begin with symptoms similar to the common cold, but will become worse over a couple of weeks. Coughing fits, vomiting, turning blue, and difficulty breathing are all red flags and indications that pertussis may have been contracted.
The PA Department of Health highly recommends that children receive their shots on time, as the vaccine is only given before 7 years of age. All children should receive four doses of the DTap vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) by 18 months of age, and an additional dose before they start school. Because infants under one year are most likely to experience the severity that comes with pertussis, it is important to keep them away from people with a questionable cough. If your child does in fact show signs of pertussis, seek medical attention immediately, and keep them out of school and daycare until evaluated. In addition to early year vaccinations, a new combination of the DTap vaccine was developed and recommended for routine use in all 11-12 year olds and 15 year olds at high school entry. It is a one-time dose for older children and adults under 65 years of age.