Whooping cough, or Pertussis, is a potentially deadly respiratory tract infection. Though there is a vaccine to protect against this infection, it is only fully effective when three shots have been administered, one a two months, one at four months, and one at six months. This means that infants under six months are most likely to contract the disease – though young adults who miss their booster shots are also at a higher risk.
How To Protect Your Child
During the third trimester of pregnancy, it is extremely important that mothers receive a dose of the vaccine. By doing so, you not only give your infant some short-term protection, but it also ensures that the mother will not pass Pertussis to her child after birth. Because Pertussis is spread by the cough or sneeze of an infected person, this is also true for anyone who will be in close contact with the baby – the father, grandparents, other relatives, siblings, etc. – anyone who will be around the child need to ensure that they are up to date on their vaccines. If they are not, they need to wait two weeks after getting an updated vaccine for it to take full effect.
As an infant and young child, it is recommended that your baby receives a total of five Pertussis vaccines at the following times:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15-18 months
- 4-6 years
This is due to the fact that the vaccine decreases in strength overtime. It is also recommended that your child receive booster shots when they are between 11 and 18 years of age, as well as one when they are 19 or older.*
When To Head To The Doctor
Whooping cough mimics the symptoms of the common cold at first, but will continue for weeks. If your child has experienced sneezing, a running or stuffy nose, and a mild fever with coughing that has increased after a week or two, it’s time to consider a visit to your provider.
This disease differs from the common cold in that after the first few weeks, it can develop into severe coughing fits that are violent and rapid, causing the loud “whooping” sound as one inhales quickly. With that said, it is extremely important to note that in many cases of whooping cough, infants do not cough at all. Instead, the disease causes them to have difficulty, or stop breathing all together.
If you are concerned that your child may have whooping cough, don’t hesitate to visit your provider right away.