Surround Babies with Protection
You can provide indirect protection to your baby by making sure everyone who is around him is up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine. When your baby’s family members and caregivers get vaccinated with a whooping cough vaccine they are not only protecting their own health, but also helping form a "cocoon" of disease protection around the baby during the first few months of life. Anyone who is around babies should be up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine.
Researchers investigate reported cases of whooping cough to better understand the disease, including how it spreads. In the studies where they have been able to identify how a baby caught whooping cough, they determined that in most cases, someone in the baby’s household, including parents and siblings, got the child sick. These studies also show that there are many other people that could get babies sick, including grandparents and caregivers.
Encourage others to get a whooping cough vaccine at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby if they are not up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccines.
It is true that cocooning may indirectly protect your baby from whooping cough, but it might not be enough to prevent whooping cough illness and death. This is because cocooning does not provide any direct protection (antibodies) to your baby, and it can be difficult to make sure everyone who is around your baby has gotten their whooping cough vaccine. Since cocooning does not completely protect babies from whooping cough, it is even more important that you get the vaccine while you are pregnant; you will pass some short-term protection to your baby until he can get his own vaccine.
Cocooning, in combination with getting a whooping cough vaccine during your pregnancy and making sure your baby gets his vaccines on time, provides the best protection possible to your baby.
Adults 19 years old or older (who are not pregnant) should get only one dose of the whooping cough vaccine for adolescents and adults (called Tdap vaccine). If an adult will be around your baby and has already had Tdap vaccine, they are not recommended to get vaccinated again. Whooping cough vaccines are effective, but unfortunately the protection they provide does not last as long as we would like. That is why current public health efforts are focused on protecting babies, since they are at greatest risk of life-threatening complications from whooping cough. You can provide the most protection to your baby by getting the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy and making sure your baby gets her whooping cough vaccines on time.
- Page last reviewed: January 27, 2015
- Page last updated: June 24, 2015
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