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Vaccine Recommended For Expectant Mothers, As Whooping Cough Cases Increase

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Infant suffering from whooping cough, or pertussis. (credit: CBS 11 News)

Infant suffering from whooping cough, or pertussis. (credit: CBS 11 News)

TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - Tarrant County Public Health has issued a warning about pertussis–commonly known at whooping cough.

The county has seen 104 cases this summer and fall, with 37 kids hospitalized.

“Over the last several years we’ve had big outbreaks,” said Dr. Don Murphey, Medical Director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

The symptoms include coughing fits and difficulty breathing, which can leave infants or small children gasping for air.

“The kids we worry about are the ones turning blue. Holding their breath, and that’s usually infants,” Dr. Murphey said of the most serious cases.

Dr. Murphey said we are seeing record numbers, not because parents aren’t vaccinating their kids. He says it may have to do with the vaccine itself.  Several years ago, the pertussis vaccine was modified from an older version, because kids were experiencing side effects, like rashes.

The new vaccine is not as strong and wears off quicker than the older one.

A new recommendation this fall is to get expectant mothers immunized.

“Since the baby won’t get his or her first whooping cough shot until he or she is 2 months old, I recommend pregnant women receive a pertussis booster shot between the 27th and 36th weeks of pregnancy, in every pregnancy,” said Dr. Sandra Parker, Medical Director for Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) and Health Authority for Tarrant County. “This allows the mother’s body to make antibodies that will be passed onto the baby and provide some short-term protection early in life. Plus, it prevents the mother from catching the disease and passing it on to the baby.”

A bottle of the pertussis vaccine against whooping cough and a syringe are show in a pharmacy. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A bottle of the pertussis vaccine against whooping cough and a syringe are show in a pharmacy. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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