Vaccines Aren't Just For Kids
By Ann Reilly, BSN, MS, CRNP Director, Employee Health

When it comes to vaccinations, parents/guardians often think about their children but rarely think about themselves. This can be dangerous to the health of you and your children. One vaccination that is important for adults to get is the Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, which can help prevent pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease known for causing uncontrollable, violent coughing. These terrible coughing fits makes breathing very difficult. At the end of a coughing fit, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound.

The first signs/symptoms of pertussis are similar to those of a common cold—runny nose, fever, and cough. However, after a week or two, a thick, gluey mucous appears and a simple cough develops into extreme coughing spells which make it difficult to breath. The terrible coughing can last for several weeks. While pertussis is treatable, it does cause a prolonged illness and can be life threatening, especially to infants.

Pertussis is a very contagious disease and is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Infants often contract pertussis from older siblings, parents or caregivers that don’t even know they are carrying the disease.

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated with Tdap, regardless of your age. Remember, vaccines are NOT just for children. It is also extremely important to stay away from anyone being treated for pertussis. The new vaccination guidelines no longer contain any age restrictions for receiving the vaccination.

Who should get the pertussis vaccination?

  • Pregnant women (who have not been previously vaccinated)
  • Parents of a newborn
  • Anyone in contact with infants - parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members,
  • Nannies/Caregivers – both daycare workers and those working with the elderly
  • All children
  • Healthcare workers
  • Anyone planning to travel outside the country

If you are interested in learning more about this vaccine and whether it’s right for you and/or your family, talk to your healthcare provider to find out what is recommended for your specific situation. To locate a physician in your area, use our Find a Doctor tool or call 410.337.1337.

You can also find more detailed information about pertussis and the vaccination by visiting

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