Whooping Cough Vaccine
Most of us think of the whooping cough as a scary bedtime story told to us by our parents. In reality, the whooping cough has been a significant problem in the United States since about 2006. The Center for Disease Control has recommended that all adults be revaccinated once for this illness. You are no longer immune if you had the vaccination as a child.
The whooping cough presents as a respiratory illness with a very severe cough. It is very contagious and is treated with antibiotics. The cough can last up to a month even with appropriate treatment. Infants and people with chronic lung problems, like asthma, can develop very severe complications or even die. It is very important that they and their caretakers get vaccinated to prevent spread of the disease. The whooping cough has also been widespread among high school and college students.
In order to revaccinate the population, the whooping cough vaccine has been combined with the tetanus booster as the Tdap vaccine. Tetanus vaccination is generally recommended every 10 years but we are giving it much sooner in order to give everyone the Tdap. Originally the vaccine was only approved to give adults through age 64 but it is now approved for adults of all ages.
There are some populations at special high risk:
- Caretakers of infants – including grandparents, parents and babysitters. Infants do not have good immunity for their first few months of life and do not receive their first whooping cough vaccine until they are 2 months old. They can become very sick from the whooping cough.
- Pregnant women – it is recommended to be given during pregnancy after the 20th week of pregnancy if the mother has not had a Tdap. This helps to give the infant protection during their first few months of life.
- Medical personnel – this includes anyone in the medical field, whether you are a personal care attendant, nurse, doctor, dentist or medical assistant.
- High school and college students and their teachers
Almost all insurances will routinely cover the cost of the Tdap except for Medicare. If you are on Medicare and caring for an infant, it is very important to get the Tdap anyway to protect the baby’s health.
The next time you are in the office, ask your provider if you have had the Tdap vaccine. Or, you can call us anytime and we will be happy to check your records and have you come in for the vaccine. We want all of our patients to stay as healthy as possible!