Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is there a vaccine for whooping cough?"
I saw something on TV about whooping cough and I'm nervous that my son is going to get it because he is only 7 and has had a lot of health issues. Can I get him a vaccine for whooping cough so he doesn't get it?
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection caused by Bordetella pertussis that is very highly contagious. It is most severe when it occurs before the coughing starts; it often requires hospitalization. Pertussis is one of the most contagious human diseases, so the best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. Pertussis will develop in 90% of unvaccinated children living with someone with pertussis, and in 50% to 80% of unvaccinated children who attend school or daycare with someone with the disease. The vaccines that are commonly used to provide protection against pertussis are DTaP, Tdap and Td vaccines. DTaP, which is a combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, is given to children younger than 7 years of age. They should get 5 doses of DTap, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, and 6 months of age. A fourth dose is between 15 and 18 months, and a fifth dose is given at ages 4 to 6 years. The other two vaccines (Tdap and Td) are given to older children and adults. If your son is not fully immunized against pertussis, you should schedule a visit with a primary care physician for a consultation on what he needs to get his vaccinations up to date.
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