Pertussis, or whooping cough, was once an afterthought in the minds of many Americans. But a recent spike in incidence—nearly double the number of cases have been reported in that past three years than in all of the ‘90s—has many people wondering: “How can we protect ourselves from pertussis?”

Preventing and protecting

The answer is actually quite simple: vaccines are the best way to prevent and protect against infectious diseases such as pertussis, as well as diphtheria and measles.

"When it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to the baby in up to 80 percent of cases."

Keep in mind that vaccinations are not just for kids and seniors. There are vaccinations recommended for adults, including the adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that adolescents receive the Tdap vaccine at 11-12 years, then again every ten years following.

Parental impact

It is essential for adults, especially new and expecting parents, to stay current with their Tdap vaccine to help prevent the spread of potentially fatal diseases like pertussis to their infants.

In fact, researchers found that when it could be determined how an infant caught pertussis, family members were responsible for spreading the disease to the baby in up to 80 percent of cases. More specifically, parents were responsible up to 50 percent of the time.