Being a mom continues to be my most challenging and rewarding role — and one that no amount of research could have fully prepared me for! When my youngest child was 6-months-old she contracted whooping cough. At the time Molly was too young to receive the full regiment of vaccines, and she was sick for weeks. She fortunately made a full recovery and leads a healthy, active life today; but her health scare remains a constant in my mind, especially as we welcome home our new baby Henry.
Fortunately, since that time, scientists have been examining the possible causes for the large number of whooping cough cases in the U.S. and made recommendations aimed at curbing domestic outbreaks. It’s more important than ever for infants to receive all five recommended doses of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine, followed by the booster shot of the adult version of the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) at 11- or 12-years-old.
It’s staggering to note that 83 percent of infants who are diagnosed with whooping cough got it from a family member, most often their own parents. All the adults in our home, and those who will have contact with Henry, received their Tdap booster before his arrival.
Tdap vaccines are also safe for pregnant mothers. I received mine during the third trimester of my pregnancy with Henry as part of the Shot@Life/Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot campaign — that’s me, above, right after I got my shot! By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, not only did I ensure protection for myself, but I also transferred protection to Henry since he cannot receive his first DTaP vaccine until he’s 2-months-old.
As we enjoy this special time with our little Henry I encourage all mothers to do their research and become educated about vaccines. I work with an organization, Every Child By Two, which works to protect all children from vaccine preventable diseases by raising parental awareness of the critical need for timely infant immunizations.
Photos: Getty (top); Vivien Best (middle)