Protect your family with whooping cough vaccinations

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If you think that whooping cough is a condition that belongs in an era of petticoats and Model T cars,...

If you think that whooping cough is a condition that belongs in an era of petticoats and Model T cars, you might be surprised to learn that according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whooping cough (also known as pertussis) affected over 27,000 adults and children in 2010. Because it has symptoms similar to RSV, the illness should be diagnosed by a doctor to ensure that proper treatment is given.

While many children become vaccinated against this highly contagious infection as part of their series of shots, these vaccines can wear off over time. Many adults become sick without realizing that without booster shots, they are still susceptible to infection particularly during wintertime. Learn why it's important for children and adults to get vaccinated.

Vaccinating children

The vaccine that children receive for whooping cough prevention is called DTaP, which prevents against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. This vaccine is given to infants, babies, toddlers and children up to 11 or 12 years of age.

When you visit your pediatrician, he or she will inject a shot of the vaccine into your child's arm or leg. A total of five doses from two months to age six make up a full round of DTaP. This is part of the routine childhood vaccines and has been proven safe. In fact, DTaP is usually required for children entering school.

Adolescent Tdap shots to prevent whooping cough

After age 11 or 12, the vaccine that is used is called Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). By this time, the childhood immunity to these diseases has begun to wear off, which is why schools require that adolescents receive the Tdap booster shot to prevent these communicable diseases. At this age, only one round of Tdap is required, though booster shots of Td (tetanus and diptheria only) will be required over a person's lifetime.

Adult Tdap shots to protect yourself and others

If you did not receive a Tdap shot as a pre-teen or adolescent, you should contact your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment to talk about immunization. Not only will it protect you against whooping cough, but you will protect children and elderly populations against contracting this highly contagious disease.

Pregnant women who haven't received a Tdap shot are encouraged to get the Tdap vaccine during the late second trimester or third trimester. Fathers-to-be who haven't received Tdap should also be vaccinated in order to protect the baby until he or she can be vaccinated at two months of age.

As with any vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider first to determine what immunization is right for you or your child.

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