Adult vaccination against pertussis key to keeping newborns safe

You are here

August 11, 2016
Parents with baby

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is dedicated to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination. A point of emphasis is the protection of infants through vaccination of pregnant women.

Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” is a very contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious illness in infants and young children. The majority of deaths from pertussis occur in children less than 3 months old, but babies cannot receive pertussis vaccine until they are 2 months old.  Therefore, an important strategy to protect the most vulnerable children is to vaccinate the adults who will be around a newborn baby.

The CDC recommends that pregnant women receive pertussis vaccine in their third trimester. Others who will be around the new baby – including siblings, grandparents, and babysitters -- should receive the pertussis vaccine at least 2 weeks before visiting a newborn baby. For more information on the pertussis vaccine, the CDC offers materials on whooping cough for adults and pregnant women.

In a 2013 NPCH Report, we asked adults about their opinions about protecting newborns against pertussis. 72% of adults agreed that parents have the right to insist that visitors receive the pertussis vaccine before visiting a newborn baby in the hospital, and 61% agreed that parents should make sure all adults receive the pertussis vaccine before visiting a newborn baby at home. However, 61% of adults did not remember when they were last vaccinated against pertussis.

Figure 1. Opinions about Protecting Babies by Vaccinating Adults against Pertussis

View full size image | View more children's health infographics

What do you think?
Is there a new baby in your family? Are you asking visitors to get pertussis vaccine? Share your thoughts in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.

Age Range: 

Add new comment