Whooping Cough Sweeps Through CA — Here’s How to Protect Baby

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Jun 2014
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Photo: Shutterstock/The Bump

Within the last two weeks, 800 cases of pertussis — or whooping cough — have been reported in California, bringing the yearly total so far up to 3,458. And that’s just reported cases.

We have an epidemic on our hands.

Infants and young babies are especially vulnerable; about half of babies with whooping cough need to be hospitalized. Some cases are even fatal. And since babies can’t get their vaccines for whooping cough until two months old, there are some things you need to do to protect him, and yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine for adolescents and adults — the Tdap vaccine — during each pregnancy. If you get vaccinated wile pregnant, your body is able to pass some of the protective antibodies to baby. That becomes sort of a quick fix to protect against whooping cough early in life, before he has his own vaccination.

The CDC suggests getting vaccinated late in pregnancy, between weeks 27 and 36, because the protective antibodies hit their highest levels about two weeks after vaccinations. If you’re a new mom who didn’t get the Tdap booster while pregnant, try to get one as soon as possible. Those antibodies can still be passed on through breastfeeding.

Are all of your immunizations up to date?

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