If you know you’re going to be around a new baby soon, make sure your whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination (Tdap or DTaP) is up-to-date. Family members and caregivers who are immunized against whooping cough are not only protecting their own health, but also helping form a “cocoon” of disease protection around a baby during the first few months of life, when the illness can cause life-threating complications. At least two weeks before meeting a new baby, everyone should be up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine as newborns cannot be immunized for the illness. If you’ve already had your Tdap vaccine, an additional vaccination is not recommended.
A new baby is most likely to catch whooping cough from someone at home
Studies have shown that in most cases, someone in the baby’s household, including parents, siblings, grandparents and caregivers, got the child sick. Because cocooning does not provide any direct protection (antibodies) to the baby in the family, most pregnant mothers are also recommended to be vaccinated for whooping cough during the third trimester of each pregnancy to pass some short-term defense to the new baby until they can get their own DTaP vaccines, the first one starting at two months.
Illustration courtesy of and information adapted from the Centers for Disease Control