Whooping cough still impacting babies and families

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause serious illness and death. Whooping cough is the most dangerous for newborns, with the majority of deaths occurring in babies younger than three months old.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new research in the journal Pediatrics about what causes infants to catch whooping cough. The most common way infants catch whooping cough is from their older siblings, the study found.

There is a vaccine to protect children and adults from whooping cough, but it loses its effect over time so booster shots are necessary. Babies’ immune systems aren’t developed enough for them to receive the vaccine until they’re two months old. That’s why experts recommend keeping babies safe by making sure everyone around them is vaccinated to reduce the chance of babies coming into contact with someone who has whooping cough. They also recommend that pregnant women receive a dose of whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy, so disease-preventing antibodies can be passed to babies before they’re born. For more information, visit Surround Babies with Protection.

In a 2013 NPCH Report, we asked adults when they last received a vaccine for pertussis (whooping cough). About 6 in 10 adults said they didn’t know when they were last vaccinated. Adults were supportive of new parents’ rights to protect their babies from whooping cough by insisting visitors be vaccinated. Read the full report: Protecting newborns from whooping cough.

Figure 1: Opinions about protecting babies by vaccinating adults against pertussis
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What do you think?:
Have you talked to family members and caregivers about protecting babies from whooping cough by getting vaccinated? Share your experiences in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!