Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract. The name “whooping cough” comes from the primary symptom of the infection: a severe hacking cough followed by an intake of breath that sounds like “whoop”. There is a whooping cough vaccine, but the disease can still occur in infants and children who are too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations, and in teenagers and adults who have lost immunity over time.
Babies are at the highest risk of contracting whooping cough and they can also contract pneumonia as a complication. According to the CDC, about half of babies younger than one year old who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. Whooping cough is extremely contagious, so it’s also important that anyone who will be in contact with an infant gets vaccinated as well.
Did you know that you can prevent whooping cough in your child before he/she is even born? If you are pregnant, the whooping cough vaccine can be given during your third trimester. By getting the vaccine while pregnant, you pass the vaccine antibodies to your baby before birth, giving them a head start in building immunity against whooping cough.
The CDC recommends that women get this vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, preferably during the earliest part of this time frame. It should also be given during each pregnancy to ensure the greatest amount of protection for each baby. You cannot get whooping cough from the vaccine, and while severe side effects are extremely rare, mild side effects may include: pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given, headache, body aches, and feeling tired.
If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting this crucial vaccine before your child is born!