Whooping cough, which is officially known as pertussis, can cause significant respiratory problems, particularly in infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of babies who get whooping cough have to be hospitalized.

Symptoms of whooping cough include difficulty breathing and even apnea, where babies stop breathing. The disease is also very contagious, so the best way to control it is to prevent it by receiving the vaccine.

Why are so many children missing their whooping cough vaccines?

Many parents still have lingering concerns about harm from vaccines, despite numerous studies showing their safety. Others simply don’t realize how common and contagious whooping cough really is.

Whooping cough vaccine schedule

Children need five doses of the whooping cough vaccine. The CDC recommends vaccines at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 4-6 years

The CDC also recommends that pregnant women receive the vaccine during the third trimester, and that parents or caregivers of young infants also get the vaccine.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Beers Lee Beers, MD, is a general pediatrician at Children’s National and the Medical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs at the Child Health Advocacy Institute.

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