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Duke Medicine: Can you be putting children at risk of whooping cough?

Posted September 3, 2012

The recent death of a two-month-old Forsyth County infant from whooping cough has put the illness back in the headlines in North Carolina.

Vaccinations against the disease are recommended at two months, four months, six months and 15 to 18 months and at 4- to 6-years-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who are 11- or 12-years-old should get a booster shot. And doctors recommend that adults who are in regular contact with children should get vaccinated.

If you have not been vaccinated for whooping cough, or pertussis, you could get the disease and potentially infect a vulnerable infant. Ask your primary care physician—or even your OB-GYN —if you should be vaccinated.

A recent study from Duke researchers showed that gynecologists offering the shots to women who come in for their annual checkups can increase vaccination rates in both pregnant and non-pregnant patients.

Said Geeta Swamy, MD, director of obstetrics clinical research at Duke: "Reaching women who had not yet received the (adult pertussis) vaccine is important because rates of pertussis have been rising for the last five years. Pertussis isn’t as serious in adolescents and adults, but it is life-threatening to infants under a year old who haven’t been fully immunized. In fact, the CDC reports that mothers are the primary source of infection in 32 percent of infant pertussis cases"

Read the full story about vaccinations from your OB-GYN here.

Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.


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  • boatrokr Sep 5, 2012

    I lost part of my hearing from the DPT vax as a child. Had whooping cough in 1987.

  • freedomrings Sep 4, 2012

    Very very sad indeed. Thoughts and prayers with this family.

    I did get the booster for myself when I had my son, but he had reactions to the DTAP shot and we had to stop. Parents need to understand that the DTAP vaccination does not guarantee protection from the virus. The efficacy rate in the states is anywhere from 59%-89% and in and my conversations with other moms, there seems to be a higher complication rate with it. Be informed and make the right choices for your family.