|Gregory Larkin, M.D.
As physicians, we work hard to improve and protect the health of our patients. However, taking care of our own well-being is just as important – not only for our sake but for our family, friends and patients. A recent case in Indiana brought home this point.
Two Indiana physicians, who were also husband and wife, developed a cough that worsened. The husband was taken to the emergency department after an apneic spell, where laboratory testing was positive for B. pertussis. During this time, the two had inadvertently exposed over 200 people to whooping cough. Fortunately, all contacts were identified and provided treatment, and there were no serious complications. Interestingly, neither physician had been previously vaccinated for the disease.
Because early symptoms of pertussis are nonspecific and mimic the common cold, you can serve as a vehicle of transmission to infants and other susceptible patients. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends you and your staff get a one-time Tdap booster to protect you and your patients, regardless of when your last tetanus booster was administered.
I urge you to keep all your vaccinations up to date to reduce disease transmission and prevent outbreaks. Make sure you are also current with these vaccines: hepatitis B,influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningococcal disease.
We all learned the principal precept of medical ethics ”primum non nocere” – do no harm. We urge you to consider how your immunization decisions impact your health and the health of your family and patients as well.
Gregory Larkin, M.D.
Indiana State Health Commissioner