Question: Does my child need to be protected against whooping cough?
Answer: The number of cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, has increased in Michigan. While this bacterial infection can strike at any age, it generally is most severe among infants. One reason is that infants and young children haven’t been fully immunized yet. Whooping cough can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, seizures, malnutrition and—rarely—death. To prevent this disease, it’s recommended that vaccination be given at ages:
Immunity generally wanes five to 10 years after the last shot. Experts recommend a booster shot at age 11 or 12, and every 10 years afterward.
To protect your little ones, you may also want to consider vaccination for older children and adults in your family. Another important prevention strategy is to make sure anyone with signs of pertussis sees your family doctor. A persistent, unexplained cough is an early indicator. After a week or two, coughing spells may last longer than a minute. This stage can continue for up to four weeks. In children and babies, especially, spells may lead to vomiting or end in a gasp for air that sounds like a whoop.
Other symptoms include:
Taking antibiotics during the early stage can shorten the duration of symptoms. Antibiotics also help keep the infection from spreading.