Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious illness. Named for the distinctive “whoop” noise that follows violent fits of coughing, whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but can be especially serious for babies less than a year old.
Whooping cough is spread from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. If adults or children become infected, they can spread the disease to other unvaccinated people around them. Because babies are most at risk for catching whooping cough, it’s recommended that anyone who is around infants is properly vaccinated. You can provide indirect protection to your baby by making sure everyone who is around him is up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine. When a baby’s family members and caregivers get vaccinated with a whooping cough vaccine they are not only protecting their own health, but also helping form a “cocoon” of disease protection around the baby during the first few months of life. Anyone who is around babies, including parents, caretakers, and other relatives should be up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine. It is also recommended that pregnant mothers get vaccinated to pass some antibodies along to their unborn babies.
Recently, there has been an increase in cases of whooping cough in Northern Nevada. This serves as an important reminder to be up-to-date on vaccinations. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent potentially fatal illness. Commonly referred to as Tdap, this important vaccine protects against not only whooping cough, but also tetanus and diphtheria. It is important to note that you must occasionally receive a “booster shot” for Tdap to remain fully protected. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if a Tdap booster is recommended.
Before vaccinations were widely available, large numbers of children died due to communicable diseases, like whooping cough. Thanks to successful public health campaigns around vaccination, many lives have been saved. Now, as more parents choose not to vaccinate their children, we are seeing a resurgence in some diseases that had become uncommon.
Vaccination is a great way to protect not only your own children, but also kids who cannot be vaccinated themselves.