“WHOOP! There it is!” Pertussis (whooping cough): Are your kids protected?

Your kid’s not looking so good.  You’ve noticed cold-like symptoms for a few weeks.  Maybe he’s running a low grade fever – maybe not.  You’ve not been too concerned till tonight. He’s never lost his breath or thrown up as a result of a coughing fit.  And that sound – that “whooping” sound that he makes between coughs.  You’ve never heard that before either.  I used to work in pediatrics.  I’ve heard it.  And I understand some Halton families are hearing it in their homes as we speak because we’ve had some recent cases.  Oh, how I hate that sound!

Now what I am absolutely NOT suggesting is that anyone freaks out when their kid coughs or runs a fever.  Nor am I suggesting anyone self-diagnose anything – ever.  Folks often mistake croup and bronchitis for whooping cough, which is diagnosed with a nasal swab.  My kid’s unwell? We see our health care provider for a proper assessment and diagnosis.  ‘Nuff said.

boy coughing into armWhat I am suggesting though, is that we are all the products of our own life experiences.  Our observations, choices, beliefs and recommendations are almost always influenced by what we have seen or done in our lives.  Education, medical advice and the experiences of others hopefully sway us into modifying our beliefs to some degree, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who wasn’t at least a tad affected by what they’d seen.

Case and point.  Working on a pediatric unit is something I’m glad I did before having my kids.  I’m glad I discovered early that a kid with chicken pox can, though extremely rare, get a flesh-eating infection simply from scratching and that a little girl with the flu can possibly become gravely ill or even worse.  You see, it’s those experiences, along with the recommendation of my doctor, that have led me to immunize my kids. I want to greatly decrease the chances of them getting the chicken pox or influenza.  My life experiences influence my parenting choices.  They just do.

Same goes for pertussis.  I’m glad my travels have taught me that there is no minimum recommended interval between pertussis vaccine doses (meaning, even though I may have been immunized with the tetanus/diphtheria vaccine last year, receiving a pertussis booster now won’t harm me).  I’m glad to know the signs and symptoms of whooping cough and that kids tend to catch it, not only from each other, but from the teenagers and adults around them whose immunizations have lapsed.  Ooopsie!  Our bad.  For once it’s us giving them something and not vice versa.  Go figure!

So I guess it’s as simple as this.  As a nurse and a mom, I feel it’s my job to do whatever I can to decrease the chances of my children contracting an illness that can pose a very serious risk to their health.  I will be contacting my doctor to get my pertussis booster.  This is my choice – what I feel is best for my family based on the information available to me.  I’m glad I know.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, no?

So, you thinking about getting your booster?  Let’s talk about it:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet with us @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this blogger:

Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department.  Wanna know more about her?  Read her blogs!  She’ll tell ya!  (She kinda likes to talk.)

This entry was posted in Babies, Parenting, Physical Health, Pregnancy, Preschool, School, School-aged Children, Special Needs, Teens, Toddlers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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