Grandparents Encouraged to Get Booster Shot to Protect Against Whooping Cough

Immunity against pertussis, or whooping cough, can wear off with time. That’s why health officials in Virginia are urging adults, including grandparents, to get a booster this year to help prevent them from inadvertently passing the disease on to infants.

A one-time booster shot called Tdap can protect adults from getting — and spreading — whooping cough.

The Virginia Department of Health has ramped up efforts to combat the spread of the highly contagious disease due to increasingly common cases of whooping cough. In Virginia, the number of reported cases increased from 128 in 2007 to 384 last year. Through September, more than 250 cases were reported.

Officials suspect that unvaccinated adults who care for young children (who aren’t old enough to have received at least three of the full series of five pertussis shots) may be unintentionally spreading the disease to babies and grandbabies.

Pediatric specialists say that childhood vaccinations haven’t eradicated diseases like whooping cough, which is creeping back because adults aren’t getting the Tdap booster shot.

The CDC recommends that all adults receive a one-time dose of Tdap, especially if they are around preschoolers or young children.

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