Whooping Cough Prevention: How Everyone in the Family Can Help
A highly contagious infection of the respiratory system that most often affects babies younger than 6 months of age can also wreak havoc on older children. A recent outbreak at a North Carolina school has reinforced the importance of vaccination and prevention strategies.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, causes severe coughing fits and can be fatal. Half of all infants with whooping cough are hospitalized. Thankfully, the pertussis vaccine (part of the DTaP series) has dropped the number of fatalities in the U.S. from 9,000 to less than 30. Since 2004, however, the number of cases of whooping cough has spiked.
Whooping Cough Symptoms
The initial symptoms of whooping cough are similar to the common cold and include a low-grade fever, runny nose, sneezing and a mild cough. These symptoms worsen over one to two weeks. A severe cough often followed by a whooping sound as the child inhales is the most recognizable symptoms. Older children, teens and adults may experience a prolonged cough without the whooping sound.
Outbreaks occur because the bacteria are easily spread through water droplets released when coughing, sneezing and even laughing. Four out of five babies that get whooping cough, catch it from someone at home.
Whooping Cough Prevention
The best way to protect your family against whooping cough is through the DTaP vaccine, which is a series of five shots administered beginning at two months of age. The final dose is given before a child turns 6. The vaccines ability to protect against whooping cough lessens over time; therefore booster vaccines (Tdap) should be given at 11 or 12 years of age.
Pregnant Women – Women who are pregnant should receive the vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy to help protect their newborn. Some of the antibodies produced by mom’s body after receiving the immunization are passed onto the baby prior to birth. This helps protect them until they are old enough to receive the vaccine.
Grandparents – Because whooping cough is highly contagious and immunity decreases with age, it is especially important for grandparents to receive the vaccine at least two weeks prior to coming into contact with an infant.
The team at Rainbow Pediatrics wants to help protect your family from whooping cough. If you have questions about the DTaP or Tdap vaccination or would like to schedule your child’s vaccination with one of our pediatric providers, call 910-486-5437 or visit us online.