The arrival of a new grandchild is a moment of great joy and pride. Will the baby look like your daughter or son? Will you have your partner’s dimples or your good sense of humor?
Before you snuggle up to your new baby, it’s important to get a Tdap shot, which protects against whooping cough (also called pertussis), tetanus, and diphtheria. Ideally, the vaccine should be given at least 2 weeks before visiting the baby.
Whooping cough is easily spread and can cause serious illness and even death. It is particularly dangerous for infants younger than 6 months of age who are too young to be well protected by whooping cough vaccines.
“Babies who get whooping cough often catch it from family members, including grandparents, who may not even know they have whooping cough,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, Acting Director of the Centers for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases National Center. for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “That’s why it’s important for parents, grandparents, and other family members to get a Tdap shot to prevent catching whooping cough – and spread it to others.”
Although most adults were vaccinated against whooping cough as children or could have had the disease as children, protection disappears over time. The Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults – even pregnant women – as well as teens and tweens. The vaccine is particularly important if you are going to be in contact with a newborn baby.
The Tdap vaccine also provides important protection for you against whooping cough and its severe symptoms, which can last up to 10 weeks or more.
Vaccinating adults who are in contact with infants is not a substitute for vaccination of children. Babies and young children need to get five doses of the DTaP vaccine according to the CDC recommended vaccination schedule for maximum protection against whooping cough.
Do you think whooping cough is a childhood disease and not a problem now? Actually, it is common in the United States, and cases usually peak every so often. In 2012, we had over 41,000 reported pertussis cases and so far we know of 15 children who died of the disease. We have not had such high numbers of cases since 1955.
You and your grandson will share many special moments in the future. Talk to your doctor about getting a Tdap shot. That way, you and your grandchild can protect themselves from this disease and can begin to create happy and healthy memories together.
To find out more about pertussis and vaccines, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/fs-parents-sp.html, or call 800-232-4636 or speak to your doctor.