Whooping cough on the rise: is your newborn protected?

Rates of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) are at their highest level in 50 years. Pertussis is very contagious and can cause serious illness and death in infants and young children.  Vaccines against pertussis are available and recommended for both children and adults, but newborn babies can’t receive the vaccine right away – making them more vulnerable to infection.

To protect newborn babies from whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all children and adults (including pregnant women) who come in contact with newborns are vaccinated against pertussis with either the DTaP vaccine (for young children) or the Tdap vaccine (for older children and adults).

We asked adults across the country when they were last vaccinated against pertussis. A majority of adults (61%) said they “don’t know” and only 20% were vaccinated within the past 10 years – the recommended time frame.

We also asked adults for their perspectives on actions parents can take to protect their infants from whooping cough. Almost three out of four adults strongly agree or agree that parents have the right to insist visitors have received the pertussis vaccine before visiting a newborn baby in the hospital. Nearly two out of three adults strongly agree or agree that parents should make sure adults have the vaccine before coming to see a newborn baby at home. Read the full report: Protecting newborns from whooping cough.

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With whooping cough cases at high levels, it’s important for parents to protect their newborns as best as they can. The results of this NPCH Poll show support for parents who wish to “cocoon” their infants by restricting contact to only vaccinated individuals. Learn more about whooping cough and the pertussis vaccine in this short video with pediatrician and NPCH director Dr. Matt Davis:

Do you know the last time you had your pertussis vaccine? If you had a newborn, would you insist visitors had the vaccine before having contact with the baby? Share your thoughts in the comments section!