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Whooping Cough 

Current situation
Teen with cough

The Health Department is investigating a spike in cases of whooping cough in Grant County. Between late March and June 28, a total of 97 cases of whooping cough were reported in Grant County residents, compared to just five in all of 2016. Many of the cases are in school-aged children.

Between November 2015 and October of 2016, Northern Kentucky experienced an outbreak of whooping cough, or pertussis, with 317 cases reported. The outbreak impacted school age youth aged between 10 and 17 more than other ages. Outbreaks of the illnesses were also seen in 2012 and 2010. 

Whooping cough can cause serious illness, hospitalization and death — especially in infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination is the best protection, but because vaccine protection fades over time, many people will need to be revaccinated to protect against whooping cough as well as tetanus and diphtheria.

Pertussis fact sheet


Teens and preteens
Pregnant women
Where get the vaccine

Kids are vaccinated against whooping cough as part of their regular schedule of immunizations. It is recommended that children receive five doses of the vaccine, with the first three doses given at one to two months intervals, starting at eight weeks. The fourth dose should be at least six months after the third dose, commonly at 15-18 months of age. A fifth dose (booster) is given between 4 and 6 years of age. Vaccination should be completed by age 6.

Teens and preteens
Vaccine protection for whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria can fade with time. Preteens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a dose of Tdap, a booster for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Teens who did not get this vaccine at the 11- or 12-year-old check-up should get vaccinated at their next visit. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for preteens and teens who will be around infants. 

Pregnant women
Pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap should get one dose of Tdap preferably during the third trimester or late second trimester — or immediately postpartum before leaving the hospital or birthing center with a newborn (women who deliver at St. Elizabeth can get vaccinated at the hospital, as can their families). By getting Tdap during pregnancy, maternal whooping cough antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection against whooping cough in early life, before the baby starts getting DTaP vaccines. Tdap will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit whooping cough to her infant.

Those around the infant — parents, siblings, grandparents (including those 65 years and older), other family members, and baby-sitters — are encouraged to get the appropriate vaccine (either DTaP or Tdap depending on age) at least two weeks before coming into close contact with the infant. 

Parents, grandparents, baby-sitters and any other adult who is going to be around young children should get a Tdap vaccine.
Vaccine protection for whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria fades with time, so adults who have not previously received a Tdap vaccine need a booster shot. Experts recommend adults receive a tetanus and diphtheria booster (called Td) every 10 years and substitute a Tdap vaccine for one of the boosters. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark. Getting vaccinated with Tdap – at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant - is especially important for adults who are around infants. Remember that even fully-vaccinated adults can get whooping cough. If you are caring for infants, check with your health care provider about what's best for your situation.

Where to get the vaccine:A parent getting a vaccine while child looks on
The vaccines are also available through the Health Department, with the following guidelines: