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Is Your Family Vaccinated Against Whooping Cough?

August 21, 2012 10:12 am
Written by: Odile Fredericks

North Carolina's first infant death from whooping cough, reported on Monday, is a sobering reminder to parents to make sure their families—and those who care for their children—have been vaccinated against this highly contagious illness.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is usually spread by coughing or sneezing while people are in close quarters. Although the illness is serious at any age, it is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, which is one reason why if you're pregnant or may become pregnant, you should get vaccinated.  Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

State health officials are strongly urging parents to take these steps right away:

  1. Make sure your child is current on his or her vaccinations. The DTaP vaccination series is recommended for children starting at 2 months of age, and continuing at 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years of age.
  2. Insist that the adults in your children's lives are also vaccinated. Young babies especially are not fully protected until they receive the full series of shots.
  3. Ask about your children's caregivers. Babysitters, child care providers, family members and anyone who come in close contact with your children should be vaccinated.
  4. Don't forget booster shots. By age 11, children should receive the Tdap booster. It's never too late for teenagers or adults to receive the booster if they haven't already.

Booster shots are important because immunity wanes over the years. The Tdap booster shot is recommended for any child age 7 to 10 who did not complete the childhood DTaP vaccination series and anyone 11 and older who has not yet received a Tdap booster.

Tdap is particularly recommended for:

  1. women who are pregnant or may become pregnant;
  2. all close contacts of infants under 12 months of age (parents, siblings, grandparents, household contacts, child care providers); and
  3. anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease.

For more information on pertussis vaccine, visit http://www.immunize.nc.gov/family/vaccines/pertussis.htm



North Carolina's first infant death from whooping cough, reported on Monday, is a sobering reminder to parents to make sure their families—and those who care for their children—have been vaccinated against this highly contagious illness.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is usually spread by coughing or sneezing while people are in close quarters. Although the illness is serious at any age, it is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, which is one reason why if you're pregnant or may become pregnant, you should get vaccinated.  Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

State health officials are strongly urging parents to take these steps right away:

  1. Make sure your child is current on his or her vaccinations. The DTaP vaccination series is recommended for children starting at 2 months of age, and continuing at 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years of age.
  2. Insist that the adults in your children's lives are also vaccinated. Young babies especially are not fully protected until they receive the full series of shots.
  3. Ask about your children's caregivers. Babysitters, child care providers, family members and anyone who come in close contact with your children should be vaccinated.
  4. Don't forget booster shots. By age 11, children should receive the Tdap booster. It's never too late for teenagers or adults to receive the booster if they haven't already.

Booster shots are important because immunity wanes over the years. The Tdap booster shot is recommended for any child age 7 to 10 who did not complete the childhood DTaP vaccination series and anyone 11 and older who has not yet received a Tdap booster.

Tdap is particularly recommended for:

  1. women who are pregnant or may become pregnant;
  2. all close contacts of infants under 12 months of age (parents, siblings, grandparents, household contacts, child care providers); and
  3. anyone with a pre-existing, chronic respiratory disease.

For more information on pertussis vaccine, visit http://www.immunize.nc.gov/family/vaccines/pertussis.htm


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