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Women's Health Blog

Whopping Cough Safety for Grandparents

So you’ve just welcomed your brand new baby into your life, and now it’s time for extended family to come and visit. There is sure to be tons of excitement and celebration surrounding your new bundle, but for the health of your infant, make sure to talk with grandparents about Tdap vaccinations to prevent the spread of whooping cough. When do seniors need the vaccine and what’s the potential harm of contracting the illness?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a type of respiratory illness that is a form of highly infectious bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. If contracted by an infant, it can cause airways to swell and create severe damage in your baby’s lungs. This disease is most commonly spread through human-to-human contact often by coughing or sneezing.


Who Needs the Vaccine?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the following ages receive the Tdap vaccine: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6-year-olds. In addition to this, parents and seniors 65 and older—or new grandparents—should also be vaccinated. Even if you or your loved ones were vaccinated as children, the CDC indicates that the effectiveness of the shot can decrease over time, leaving your new infant susceptible to the illness.

If you’re a new grandparent, make sure you plan ahead and get the Tdap vaccine several weeks before you visit your new grandchild. Specialists say you should wait at least two weeks after receiving the shot before holding any infants.

Whooping cough is most harmful to infants under six months old. Common symptoms will appear in babies within 5-10 days of being exposed, but can sometimes take up to three weeks to begin.

Early signs to be aware of are:

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild cough
  • Apnea (pause in breathing)

Late-stage signs to look out for:

  • Coughing fits
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion

With the right care and medication, your baby can recover from whooping cough, but some cases are severe enough to lead to serious complications or even death. Protect your infant from this dangerous disease by getting vaccinated and encouraging those around you to do the same.


If you want to schedule an appointment for the Tdap vaccine, talk to your primary care doctor or contact Beebe Population Health at (302) 645-3337.