Whooping Cough

Understand the Danger Your Grandchild Faces From Whooping Cough

It’s a highly contagious disease that can be especially serious—even fatal—for infants. Unfortunately, many people who spread it may not know they have it. If you have a new grandchild or one on the way, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways you can help protect yourself and your family from whooping cough, including getting vaccinated.

The FAQs below can help you learn more about whooping cough and vaccination.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that can be especially serious—even fatal—for infants. More than about half of babies under the age of 1 year who have whooping cough are hospitalized.


Whooping cough spreads easily from person to person (through coughing and sneezing). Unfortunately, some people who spread whooping cough may not know they have it.


If you have a new grandchild or one on the way, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about ways you can help protect yourself and your family from whooping cough, including getting vaccinated.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone, including those around babies, make sure their whooping cough vaccination is up-to-date.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a whooping cough vaccination is right for you and your family.

Immunity wears off over time. You may no longer be immune to whooping cough from previous vaccines you have had. Even if you had whooping cough before, the “natural immunity” does not provide lifelong protection.


This is why the CDC recommends a "booster" vaccine called Tdap for children, at age 11 or 12, as well as for all adolescents and adults who did not receive the Tdap vaccine as a preteen. This vaccine helps to prevent whooping cough, as well as tetanus and diphtheria.


The CDC recommends getting the vaccine at least 2 weeks before coming into close contact with an infant. Ask your doctor to check your medical records if you are uncertain as to whether or not you have received the Tdap vaccine.


Remember that whooping cough can make infants, as well as adults, very sick.

Adults may not realize they have whooping cough early on. That's because whooping cough can appear like the common cold at the beginning, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or mild fever. But after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.


Babies who get whooping cough often catch it from family members, including grandparents, who may not even know they have whooping cough.

Whooping cough has never been eliminated in the United States. Babies too young to get vaccinated are most at risk for severe illness from whooping cough. In recent years, there have been reported whooping cough cases and large outbreaks of this disease in different parts of the country.

You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more and to find out if a whooping cough vaccination is right for you and your family. You can also learn more by clicking on the links below:


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