Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is a highly contagious infection. It is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It triggers fits of several severe rapid cough followed by “whoop” sounds that can make it hard for infants to breathe. For adults whooping cough is usually mild and includes symptoms of a runny nose, coughing, fever, and fatigue.

For infants, however, the runny nose and coughing can be severe and cause them to not get enough oxygen, sometimes leading to death. Since infants cannot get the vaccine until 2 months of age, they rely on antibodies from mom and protection from the rest of the family.

Recommendations for Pregnant Women:

  • Mothers should get the Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine during each pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks
  • Your antibodies are transferred to your baby through the placenta
  • Your baby is protected until they are able to start their own pertussis vaccination series at 2 months old
  • If mom has never had chicken pox, she should get the vaccine before she becomes pregnant

Recommendations for everyone else:

  • All family members in close contact with infants less than 12 months old should receive the Tdap vaccine if they are not already vaccinated. This is often called Cocooning.
  • Family and visitors should be up to date on all other vaccines, including flue, measles, chicken pox, and other diseases, to protect baby from being exposed to those illnesses.