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Living Well

Whooping Cough: On the Rise and in the News

Last updated: Feb 11, 2013




According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention,
the best way to protect against whooping cough (or pertussis
is still to get a vaccine!


Although recent reports suggest the vaccine for whooping cough might not protect against a recent strain of the disease, the CDC suggests the rise in whooping cough cases in the United States is still most likely a result of better detection, fewer children being vaccinated, and fewer children getting follow-up (booster) vaccines in their early teens. While vaccination rates are high (84 percent) for young children, the CDC suggests that fewer than 70 percent of children age 11 years and older have received their final pertussis vaccine.

Summit Medical Group pediatrician Kathleen Cuddihy, MD, FAAP, says, "Until researchers determine what's causing the high rate of pertussis infections, the best protection is being up to date on the vaccine and getting early, effective treatment for infection." Dr. Cuddihy emphasizes, "Although pertussis vaccines can provide good protection against disease during the first few year after vaccination, the protection can wear off. For this reason," she adds, "we urge parents to follow government recommendations to vaccinate children in 5 doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the last shot between ages 4 and 6 years. At age 11 years, we recommend that all children have a booster shot to protect against the disease."

"The booster shot at age 11 years is especially important," says Dr. Cuddihy, "because it offers long-term protection to prevent infection and disease spread. It's also important for pregnant women and anyone who spends time with children to update their vaccine a booster shot," she adds. "Men and women age 18 years and older also should have the pertussis vaccine."

"Although whooping cough is most common in infants and young children," says Dr. Cuddihy, "it can affect anyone. Pertussis can cause serious illness in children and adults, and it can be life threatening in infants younger than a year of age."

Symptoms of whooping cough include:

  • A runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Mild or severe coughing that often lasts 1 to 6 weeks, but can last as long as 10 or more weeks
  • Fever

Treatment for Whooping Cough
Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Treatment is most effective in early stage disease, so be sure to see a doctor immediately if you or your children have symptoms of whooping cough.

For more information or to schedule an appointment
for your child's whooping cough vaccine,
call Summit Medical Group Pediatrics
today at 908-273-4300.


If your child has an egg allergy,
he or she might still be able to have vaccines.
Ask your doctor.

For more information,
please visit the CDC Pertussis page.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis (Whooping Cough).http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/. Accessed February 11, 2013.