Why Whooping Cough Is Making a Comeback

What Can You Do About Whooping Cough?

So, what can you do? Make sure your child is up to date on his shots and make sure you are, too. If you can't remember the last time you got your tetanus shot, you need to roll up your sleeve and get the Tdap vaccine. These are the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP):

1. Adults ages 65 and up should get Tdap if they will be around infants who are younger than 1 year of age. (Previously, only those ages 64 and younger were advised to get the vaccine.)

2. Adults ages 65 and up can get Tdap as their tetanus booster if they have never received Tdap before.

3. There is no minimum time frame between the dose of Td (for tetanus and diphtheria) and giving a Tdap booster (originally it was recommended to be five years between, then two years between).

Because of the latest major outbreak, California has expanded its vaccine recommendations beyond the standard vaccination schedule. Californians who are age 7 and up who are not fully immunized; women of childbearing age, before, during or immediately after pregnancy; and anyone who has contact with pregnant women or infants should receive a booster shot for whooping cough.

I know that many adult medical practices do not stock the Tdap vaccine, but ask for it, and your doctor may get it for you. If you cannot get it from your doctor, call around to your local pharmacy or even grocery store, if it has a pharmacy department.

In addition to being vaccinated, be sure to watch for signs of whooping cough:

1. A persistent cough after having symptoms of a common cold.

2. A hacking cough that is much worse at night.

3. Coughing spells that include trouble catching one's breath at the end of the spell, vomiting at the end of the spell, lips turning blue, or face turning red with the spell.

4. Making a high-pitched "whoop" noise at the end of the coughing spell.

5. A low-grade fever throughout the course of the disease.

Dr. Ari Brown is a pediatrician, a medical advisor for Parents magazine, and the author of Baby 411, Toddler 411, and Expecting 411. Read her blog, Baby 411 & Toddler 411, at: http://baby411.typepad.com/baby_411_blog/

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