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Editorial: N.M. needs shot in arm

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Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, continues to sicken hundreds of New Mexicans.

In 2013. Despite a vaccine being available since the early 1900s.

The disease, which presents a life-threatening risk to infants, is preventable with that vaccine, since refined and administered in a four-shot series to babies and as a one-time booster piggy-backed onto the routine tetanus shot to adults. The shots are covered by most insurance plans and free at state public health offices to those without coverage.

So far this year, 343 New Mexicans have contracted whooping cough; 17 have been hospitalized, including 11 infants. In 2012, in a record high number of pertussis cases, 41,000 Americans and 898 New Mexicans were sickened. Two New Mexicans, including one infant, died last year.

So it is essential New Mexicans – especially children and those who will have contact with them – get the Dtap or Tdap vaccine, which guards against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria.

David Selvage, the New Mexico Department of Health’s infectious disease epidemiologist, says delayed reporting may show the state isn’t far off last year’s record pace for pertussis illnesses and hospitalizations.

But a few minutes and a free shot could prevent that.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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