California health officials say that there has been an increase in whooping cough cases, killing at least five people in the past few months, two of which were infants. Whooping cough peaks in August and September and there are three times as many cases as expected for this time of year. Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is highly contagious and is spread by airborne discharges from infected individuals. Symptoms include a runny nose and rapid coughing that ends with a whooping sound. Read on for details about the disease and how you can protect your family from infection.
Vaccine-Preventable, but Not for Life
It is the most common of vaccine-preventable diseases and although most children receive five doses before kindergarten, the vaccine does not provide lifelong immunity. Most become susceptible again by middle-school age. Pertussis vaccination does not begin until two months of age, and infants are not fully immune until they are at least six months old.
Get Vaccinated to Protect Your Baby
Nearly half of infants with whooping cough are infected through parents, especially mothers. Because of this risk, it’s important to do everything possible to protect your infant from infection. This means that you should make sure that you, your husband, or any other primary caregiver is vaccinated. Vaccination before the birth of a child is the absolute best way to ensure the child’s safety, but women can also be vaccinated during pregnancy or after giving birth. Remember that in order to protect your infant, you must protect yourself first.