Protecting Your Children’s Health Through the Holidays
Special thanks to Danielle Lucia Schaffer for this guest post about the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent whooping cough, which originally appeared on City Girl Gone Mom.
Anyone who knows me knows that I adore entertaining. Ever since I moved from the east coast to the west, my doors have been revolving year-round with friends and family who come to visit. In fact, I had a full house of 12 people this past summer. I never pass up the chance to spend time with those that matter the most. Whether it’s family visiting, a girls night in, or a sleepover party for the kids, you can bet I always have a constant stream of chaos in my home.
While some people might dread hosting visitors, or having a party at their house, I, on the other hand, look forward to my never-ending assembly line of a chaotic, messy, yet blissful life. With the holiday season in full swing, and it being my absolute favorite time of year to invite guests, you can bet I’ve got my invitations out, the caterer on speed dial, and the patio cleared for the DJ. Friends and extended family will be streaming in over the next four weeks and I love watching my kids’ faces light up every time someone arrives with a plate of cookies or an armful of gifts.
Unfortunately, sweets and presents aren’t all that guests can bring. Unwanted illnesses almost seem inevitable because of how easily they can be transmitted: touching doorknobs, borrowing a pencil, a simple hug, or—like in my case—being in close quarters. With winter known as the season for colds and flu, and also whooping cough, it’s important as a mom of four to put my cape on and hone in on protecting my little beings. Like many children, my kids get vaccinated for various illnesses, but did you know that adults should get their Tdap booster vaccine too in order to prevent whooping cough? I had no idea!
The Dangers of Whooping Cough
Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is a serious respiratory infection that spreads easily from person to person. Outbreaks are more likely to happen in the fall and winter season. The infection causes coughing spells so severe that it can be hard to breathe, eat, or sleep. Whooping cough can lead to cracked ribs, pneumonia, hospitalization, or even death. It affects people of all ages, but infants less than a year old are at greatest risk.
Unfortunately, four out of five babies with whooping cough catch it at home from loved ones. Nearly half of all infants with whooping cough are hospitalized and some may die. That is why I encourage you to watch this public service announcement (PSA) video by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) to learn more.
All of my children are fully vaccinated and it’s very important to include the one to prevent pertussis. DTaP is the childhood vaccine, and Tdap is the pertussis booster vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults. Even with high rates of pediatric vaccination in the US, the number of whooping cough cases has been increasing steadily. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worldwide, there are an estimated 16 million cases of pertussis and about 195,000 deaths per year.
Talk to your healthcare professional about getting vaccinated against pertussis. This is vastly important for those of you who plan to travel or will be in close contact with infants! And if you have an infant, make sure to strongly recommend (or even insist!) this vaccine to anyone who will be traveling to visit you.
Spending time with loved ones over the holidays is crucial. I relish in all the excitement that my visitors bring. But, as a mom, I also know that my entertaining can come with catching colds or even illnesses. I do my best to be prepared and educate myself on the preventive options available. This ultimately helps me feel more in control and better able to enjoy our rhythm as a family of six (plus the never-ending guests). Follow our journey at citygirlgonemom.com.
This post was developed in partnership with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and was originally published in the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members can post, ask questions, and share parenting advice.