The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough in Southern California is 4 times higher this year than last year and it has been reported that five babies have died of this preventable disease.
My phones have been ringing with parents wanting to know about whooping cough and the vaccine.
Whooping cough (aka Pertussis) is an infection that causes severe coughing spells. These spells can last for weeks and the cough can be so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe.
The DTaP vaccine and TdaP (Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine) can help prevent whooping cough.
Infants receive the DtaP vaccine at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months of age, with a booster dose given at 4-5 years.
Because immunity to whooping cough can wear off over time, the TdaP vaccine is given at age 11 and every 10 years after. New parents, grandparents and anyone who care for a newborn should also receive the vaccine since often it is parents or other caregiver who unknowingly passes whooping cough to a newborn.
If your older child or teen received their 11 year old tetanus vaccine after 2005, they probably received the new TdaP and should be protected against whooping cough. Check with your doctor to make sure the tetanus vaccine had whooping cough protection in it as well since previously, teens and adults were given Td which only protects against tetanus (and diphtheria), but not whooping cough (pertusis).
If it has been over 2 years since you or your teen received Td (tetanus without whooping cough), you can receive the new TdaP vaccine (tetanus with whooping cough), which should protect you for 10 years. Many hospitals are now giving the TdaP vaccine to women after they deliver so a mom doesn’t catch the disease and pass it to her newborn before they baby can be vaccinated.
If you have any specific questions about your child’s vaccines, or you are concerned that somebody in your house may have whooping cough, call your pediatrician.