Rainbow Pediatrics
Fayetteville Office
(910) 486-5437
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(910) 426-5430
Raeford Office
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Whooping Cough Vaccine: Why it is Not Just for Kids

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercials. Mom and Dad bring home their beautiful new baby and Grandma comes to visit. She kisses and hugs her new grandbaby in loving endearment. In addition to the love she shares with her new grandbaby, she also shares a highly contagious respiratory infection. 

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterium easily spread through water droplets expelled when coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by sharing breathing space with another person.

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

The early symptoms of whooping cough are similar to the common cold. Cough severity increases with time and can last more than three to four weeks. In children, you can often hear a whooping sound as the child tries to catch their breath after a coughing fit. This sound is not common in adults. Also, adults may not have any symptoms initially. 

Who can get whooping cough?

Whooping cough can happen to anyone, at any age. It is rarely deadly in adults and teens, however, it can be especially dangerous in children, especially young infants who haven’t received the full course of the vaccine (five doses). According to the CDC, babies most often get whooping cough from their older siblings, parents or caretakers. 

How long is whooping cough contagious? 

Whooping cough is most contagious up to about two weeks after the coughing begins. Antibiotics can help decrease the amount of time someone is contagious. 

How long is the whooping cough vaccine effective?

To start, no vaccine is 100% effective. The vaccine that protects against whooping cough is called DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) and in general, is 80-90% effective. The vaccine is administered by a pediatrician in a series of five doses beginning at two months of age. 

AAP Dosing Schedule for TDaP

2 months

4 months

6 months

15-18 months

4 years

The CDC estimates that in the first year after receiving the vaccine, it protects 7 out of 10 people who receive it. The vaccine loses its efficacy in subsequent years. That is why it is important to receive a TDaP booster vaccine. 

Is the whooping cough vaccine safe for pregnant moms?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pregnant women receive the vaccine between 27-36 weeks of pregnancy regardless of when they last received the vaccine. Receiving the vaccine helps protect babies against the disease until they are old enough to receive the vaccine.

I am getting ready to have a baby. Should I insist that my family be vaccinated for whooping cough before meeting her?

Absolutely! The booster should be given every ten years. Don’t be afraid to ask your family if they’ve had the booster before loving on your new baby. 

If you have questions about whooping cough or suspect your child may have it, call our office to schedule an appointment today.