5 Ways to Protect Your Child from Pertussis

Pertussis (or whooping cough) is extremely contagious which is why it is so important to understand how you as a parent, can protect yourself and your child from this potentially fatal disease.

Here’s 5 ways to protect your child against whooping cough:

  1. Have a booster shot in the third trimester of your pregnancy to pass on antibodies to your unborn baby.
  2. Keep your baby away from anyone who is sick or has cold-like symptoms.
  3. Download a vaccine reminder App, such as VaxiMate, VacciDate or Save The Date to Vaccinate, so you don’t miss any vaccinations.
  4. Whooping cough vaccinations wear off – ensure friends and family who have frequent contact with your child are up to date with their booster shots.
  5. Talk to your GP if you have any concerns or questions.

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Fern’s Story – Whooping Cough

In September 2015, my 5 month old Fern had a cold. We went to the doctors a few times within a 3 week period and I was told she had asthma, then bronchitis. One night she couldn’t breathe while coughing and it seemed like she was choking, so I raced her up to the hospital. Once we arrived, she coughed so hard that we both got covered in phlegm. They could not find anything wrong with her and a nurse mentioned whooping cough was going around, so they tested her for whooping cough. I found out that my older kids’ school had 9 confirmed cases and no one was alerted. We got a phone call confirming that she had whooping cough and so we were back at the hospital, but they could not do anything for her as she was able to drink her bottle. I was shocked that they couldn’t help her.

At home it was a nightmare day and night watching my baby struggling to breathe, not knowing if that was going to be her last breath. They look on her face when it was happening brought tears flowing down my face. There was nothing I could do except hold her and pat her back. Just when it seemed like it would be going it would be back, and it seemed worse than when it started. She would scream in pain after every cough. I was a mess as a mother, watching this, feeling that somehow it was my fault.

I felt like no one understood. I would have friends that couldn’t understand why I wasn’t answering their phone calls, not catching up – they just kept writing it’s just a cough, it’s like croup, she will get over it soon. They just didn’t understand what was happening to her and how at any moment that she might just give up and go.

I honestly felt like it was never going to go away. The doctor told me it was 100 day cough, so I was counting the days while Googling to see if there was anything that could help. I tried everything, you name it, I tried it, and nothing worked. It came to 120 days and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t gone. I then researched and found that babies take longer to get over whooping cough.

While she was coughing and screaming in pain, I just couldn’t understand why people do not vaccinate their children or themselves, Fern had only received 2 shots for this so far.  Yes, we do have that mentality that it won’t happen to us but it does – this is your child who depends on you to keep them alive, and personally to me vaccinations help them with this. I was told Fern has a mild case of whooping cough because of her vaccinations. I honestly feel if that was a mild case because of her vaccinations.  Imagine if I hadn’t given her the needles, she would more than likely not be here today.

The recovery process is long. It is now 6 months and it still hasn’t fully gone. When she gets worked up the whooping gasp for air and cough returns. One day it will be gone but we won’t know what damage it has done until she is older.

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